Galerie Krobath I Berlin presents a solo exhibition featuring the latest socio-critical works by Anna Meyer. The title of the series is based on Shakespeare’s line “To be or not to be” and addresses the dichotomies of our modern lives. In this digital age, when the Internet and social media are ubiquitous in people’s lives, fundamental philosophical questions about the reality of our world seem to be ever more pressing: What do reality and freedom mean today? Where do we find them and how do we experience them?
The striking feature of Anna Meyer’s images is the contrast between their content and formal aspects. Meyer uses colours to create a bright, sun- and light-permeated atmosphere, turning the gloomy vision of today’s social relationships into its cheerful and tongue-in-cheek opposite. The artist uses the rhetorical device of reversal, which Shakespeare also used in his stage dramas. For example, in the painting entitled “Welt Du Strichcode” (“World You Barcode”), the boundaries between the technological apparatus and its users seem to have disappeared. A flock of geese with tracking devices fixed to their heads march towards the newly opened Apple Store in Kö-Bogen in Düsseldorf. The temple of consumer goods with its customers turns out to be a highly symbolic mortuary temple. Next to the apple sign, a human skull gleams like a pirate flag. The text beneath reads: “The cult whose logo is the fruit responsible for our expulsion from Paradise”, thus emphasising the philosophical/religious dimensions of the image. A figure to the right calls to mind the famous quote from Hamlet: “To be or not to be, that is the question”. Like a monument, the figure is staring at an iPad as if it were a mirror, thus visualising the tragedy of Hamlet’s inner turmoil. In this digital world, architecture and technology, man and beast are the expression of a gigantic flow of data, which is capitalistic to the core. The curved glass façade gleams brightly, like a bar code. In other townscapes by Anna Meyer, we encounter the insignia of our modern urban culture: mobile phones, drones, selfies and apps make people look like remote-controlled cyber figures in a tragedy which encompasses the world. Façades are turned into displays and graffiti becomes admonitory text messages that question our actions and criticise the political system.
The religious context of these images is also clear in the three-dimensional models. In “Smartphonemadonna”, for example, where fairy tale frogs meet the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Internet router Netgear. This sculptural mix of technological junk and Christian devotional objects is further proof of the artist’s characteristic sense of irony and humour. Kitsch isn’t used as an end in itself, but as a witty comment on how we worship certain things in our everyday lives, wittingly or unwittingly. Faith in technology and devotion to God are depicted as a fatal alliance in the modern consumer world. The sad truth in this trenchant dialogue reveals itself in a figure shrouded in black and wearing headphones: the frightening representation of fundamentalism.
Only by looking onto and behind the scenes can we fully grasp the theatricality of our modern human existence. And this is precisely what makes Anna Meyer’s art so powerful: it helps us to become aware of ourselves and others and how we interact with the world. We watch ourselves living our lives – free to express ourselves as artists and humans, faced with technology and its ostensible dominance over our world.
(Translation: Mandana Taban)