All images Courtesy HMT Cosar, Dusseldorf and Loevenbruck, Paris
In his concepts, installations, sculptures and drawings, Werner Reiterer creates subversive realities that upend society’s rules and norms with flashes of acute criticism, irony and wicked humor. A felt hat—epitome of a fading bourgeois lifestyle—has three holes cut into it. In a photo work the artist reveals its fatal function: the bourgeois version of a stocking mask destined to be used in a hold-up, a once proud marker of social respectability now indicating the bourgeoisie’s descent and ultimate absorption into the milieu of common criminals.
The bizarre masquerade of discarded pieces of furniture dressed up in stocking masks in “A Family Gang” epitomizes the classical nuclear family teetering on the edge of an existential precipice and signals its ultimate decline into a grotesque, pocket-size criminal gang.
In “Locked in!” Reiterer’s dark vision takes a dramatic turn: a camper, representing a middle class way of vacationing and travel, is stripped of all pleasurable associations. A storm is brewing inside and, unable to escape, explodes in a pandemonium of hellish noises—a vacation idyll shattered by conflict. The absurdity of the camper’s presence in an exhibition space (it’s way too big to have passed through its doors often!) only increases the irritation. “Locked in!” is a sculptural metaphor for the miserable and explosive state of a society under existential pressure and the dismal status quo of the individual. Werner Reiterer’s work oscillates between pointed criticism of the global order with its politics of economization and a sharp-edged irony laced with trenchant humor and ultimately settles on a form that captures all this ambiguity with surgical precision.