In his first solo exhibition in Italy, Florian Neufeldt presents works in Rome which reveal articulate modalities of relation with the exhibition space and at the same time highlight the issues at the heart of his work: helplessness, being stuck and facing dynamics which cannot be controlled. At The Gallery Apart, Neufeldt exhibits sculptures which are imposing and represent the most recent steps in his artistic path. Meanwhile at 26cc, he exhibits an audio-visual installation which captures “the words” of the world, highlighting their absurd ambiguity.
The sculptures that Neufeldt exhibits at The Gallery Apart express a singular attention towards what constitutes our daily lives. Furniture, chairs and household objects of various sorts are taken apart, reduced to fragments and then brought back to their material state, rebuilt in new ways and tied together with neon lights or pieces of guardrail. Whether evoked or real, movement emerges in the works, along with its exponential factor – velocity. The rebuilt shapes do not lose the identities of the original objects from which they are derived. The sculptures – some having an installative nature – are often made of non-abstract materials, things which used to be something else and which at one time were used. Somehow their original function is still there, inside the rebuilt objects. Even when only a small part is left of the original object, the reference to what it was is still clear. The cut-up ladder is still a ladder, even though now it might remind us of something else. A Shot in the Dark (2010) is the main piece in exhibit at The Gallery Apart; it is a ladder hanging horizontally from the ceiling. It has been cut lengthwise down the middle of the rungs. The two half ladders were then put together to form one line, the two ladder tops meeting in the middle. Underneath this center – autonomously suspended from the ceiling as well – hangs a circular black handrail. Some loose parts of the old painter’s ladder seem close to falling off, reaching down through the center of the black ring. By bisecting the ladder, it was doubled. The top is somehow not the top anymore, rather a junction of directions, a kind of overflow, a crossing without the characteristics of one. It seems like a point of no return, as if the only way out is falling. Therefore the circular handrail seems to form a benign (black) hole. It doesn’t lead anywhere.
The exhibit at 26cc, Nothing succeeds like success, and nothing survives like survival, also speaks of ambivalent meanings. The skeletons of office chairs – manipulated in a way that alters the binomial aspect/function – compose an original aerial architecture which is host to the sound. The speakers diffuse the sound of a man’s voice which repeatedly recites a set of words which seem to have the same or a similar meaning. The voice does this in one breath as long as possible until unable to go on. Then it starts over again. The recited groups of words were gathered by taking German terms linked to survival in a competitive social environment, such as strength, endurance and power. These words were then translated into English and the different proposals for the original words – whether coming from a medical or technical background – form the set of terms being repeated. These mantras seem quite helpless, even ironic as the voice becomes strained as the air runs out, because they only last as long as a breath. Neufeldt purposefully chooses ambiguous words which have different meanings and senses, such so that they are often opposites, when “common” language is compared to that of, for example, the world of economy. In such a way, the artist highlights the strategies through which power reacts, using rules (language) in an exclusive way.