Don't be Maybe, 2020
Installation, Mixed Media
Videos directed by Lion Bischof
Conception Silkscreens by Korbinian Jaud
Felix Burger (*1982 in Munich) studied at the Academies of Fine Arts in Munich and in Vienna (2003-2010). He was a student of Stephan Huber (2013) and during his studies he was a guest at the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York (2010). He was an artist in residence at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam (2013-2014) and at the Atelier van Lieshout in Rotterdam (2017-2018).
Felix Burger lives and works in Rotterdam and Munich.
For the exhibit at Art Rotterdam 2020, Felix Burger creates an extensive installation of mirrored walls, headless dolls, converted sex machines, two videos and a series of silkscreen prints – an exhibition of our acute social fitness mania combined with chronic emotional maladjustment.
The title of the entire installation and its elements "Don't Be Maybe" is on the one hand familiar from the Marlboro tobacco advertisement of 2011, and on the other hand is disseminated as a hashtag on Instagram; in both cases, people are called upon not to be irresolute. The cynical translation of the condition of participation and dominance is manifested in Felix Burger's work in the abstraction and perversion of masculine codes of behavior.
In this way, headless dolls, affixed to machines in the center of the spectacle and supposedly staring at the fitness instructions displayed in front of them on tablets, are mechanically made to move backwards and forwards. Transfusion tubes transport a green liquid, which is extracted from a master doll and which is used to fill Playboy deodorant spray cans at the other end, as a reference to the ever-present possibility of inducing an increased performance. The reflections in the surrounding mirrored walls reinforce the association with a fitness studio and integrate the viewer into the setup. They are interrupted by two videos, which are situated on large monitors in the room. On one screen, two masked, identically clothed men are displayed, purportedly fencers without foils or épées, whose ritual contest is limited to grabbing and hitting each other below the belt. To help in understanding the imagined rules, blue and red framed silkscreen prints illustrate what is allowed (blue) and what is forbidden (red). They are derived from an actual court fencing book from the 15th century by Hans Talhoffer. On the second monitor, a prologue and epilogue to the first video is suggested: one of the two contestants crouches on the floor of a hotel room and sprays his genitals – it remains unclear whether this represents a preventative, anesthetizing measure, or a purely regenerative process.
Felix Burger's setting is animated by ambiguities, gestures of psychological superiority and of medical self-optimization, associations with sex and gender, as well as disturbing rituals. "Don't Be Maybe" is a contemporary enactment of fears, inner conflicts and social distraction, and presents to us how we dramatically attempt to overcome these via pseudo-cults.
(Andrea Kopranovic, 2020, translated by Sarah Cormack)