Emmanuel van der Auwera’s most recent solo show at Harlan Levey gallery, could not have been more present-day, and fortunately so without falling into the trap of easy anti-Trump antics. The political relevance of his works is more subtle, but ever so striking, exploring different perceptions of reality, its multiple dimensions, and the tension between the real and the virtual. What do we see, how do we see it, and can we trust our own eyes? Indeed crucial questions in today’s so-called post-truth society.
The Brussels-based artist’s “Memento” series for instance explores the media’s representation of the crowd as well as how catastrophic events write themselves into collective memory. A sequence of offset newspaper panels mounted on aluminium display headlines and images from different disasters which are partly camouflaged by blue paint.
Van der Auwera’s captivating video sculptures are of a more interactive nature, inviting the viewer to gaze through polarizing filters mounted on tripods. By taking apart the screen, today’s most prominent means of absorbing information, he questions its legitimacy and calls for a more critical reflection. While the visual information is projected on the walls, the visitor can only witness the military footage of assassination operations when walking up to the tripods and looking through the polarizing filters, meaning that every single viewer creates his own subjective view of the displayed drone strike.
An artist who invites us to challenge and decode what we see, question given truths, and look behind the images we are bombarded with every single day.