PARTICIPANT / Mario Pfeifer

  • Name Mario Pfeifer
  • Country Germany
  • Vocation Artist
  • Education Not Available

Mario Pfeifer’s work centres on narratives often forced out of our frames of vision. In this, his first solo exhibition in Canada, the Berlin-based artist presents a trilogy of video installations. Demonstrating a profound commitment to the stories of individuals and communities, Pfeifer sees himself as an intermediary to bring uncovered stories to broader attention. He immerses himself in the domains in which he works so as to present them in all their complexity and contradiction.

#blacktivist (2015) is a two-channel video installation produced in collaboration with Brooklyn rap group Flatbush ZOMBiES. The work brings together Pfeifer’s music video for the group’s track Blacktivist with found imagery and interviews in a startling critique of contemporary gun violence. Footage of ‘Defense Distributed’, a Texan organization notorious for developing plans for the first DIY 3D-printed handgun, is brought together with disturbing imagery of police brutality, as well as a surreal narrative charting the Flatbush ZOMBiES’ own imagined response.

The footage at the heart of the three-channel installation Approximation in the digital age to a humanity condemned to disappear (2014) was filmed over a period of four months with the Yaghan people in Tierra del Fuego, Chile. Presenting an indigenous community forced to abandon or adapt their traditions as a result of settlers, anthropologists, tourists and the demands of global capitalism, Approximation brings together high-resolution imagery of the contemporary activities of the community with a soundtrack by Iranian born American electronic sound artist, producer and musician Kamran Sadeghi.

Pfeifer’s most recent work, Again (2018), which debuted at the 10th Berlin Biennale, confronts attitudes to immigration and justice in the artist’s home country of Germany. Playing on the format of television crime re-enactments, the two-channel video installation restages the sequence of events involving Schabas Saleh Al-Aziz, a Kurdish-Iraqi refugee in Germany who was tied to a tree by four local men following what they perceived as violent behaviour in a supermarket. Charting his tragic fate and the polarizing media response that followed, Pfeifer’s work uses reconstruction and public responses to expose rising xenophobia and racial division.

Connecting to each of these works, Pfeifer has been commissioned by Contact Photography Festival and The Power Plant to produce a billboard outside the gallery depicting the Tierra del Fuego landscape. The artist’s overlaid text, reiterating the exhibition’s title, serves to indicate his open-ended approach, expressing a resistance to preconceived conclusions and his perpetual interest in inviting us to question our own standpoint in relation to the content of his works. One cannot see these works with indifference; instead, they compel us to think of our own behaviour and prejudices.

Mario Pfeifer (born 1981 in Dresden, Germany) studied at the California Institute of the Arts, Städelschule Frankfurt am Main, the Universität der Künste, Berlin and Academy of Visual Arts, Leipzig. He lives and works in Berlin. He has had solo exhibitions at institutions including Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Germany (2018), Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig – GfZK (2016); Ludlow38 New York (2015); Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2015); and Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chile (2014). His work was shown at Berlin Biennale (2018); Mercosul Biennale (2017); Montevideo Biennale (2016); and has been part of group exhibitions at venues including CCA – Center of Contemporary Art Lagos; Museum of Art and Technology, Lisbon and MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main. Pfeifer has been the recipient of Fulbright and DAAD scholarships. While in Toronto for his Power Plant exhibition,