press release

26.11.2006 is the title of the exhibition that Gregor Schneider will present in Naples, at the Morra Greco Foundation and in the church of S. Gennaro all’Olmo. In the Lutheran calendar, the 26th of November is the day of commemoration of the departed. In fact, the project, which the German artist developed during one of his stays in Naples, is closely related to the topic of death, a feeling that has always lied at the heart of the city, although the latter tries to conceal it behind a mask of mirth and vitality. Gregor Schneider, born in Rheydt in 1969, is one of the most interesting and enigmatic artists of the last generation. The central focus of his artistic research is the claustrophobic and maniac reconstruction and re-presentation of domestic spaces, which he progressively transforms through the indefatigable adding of walls, partitions, fake windows and so on. He builds walls in front of already existing walls, which often seem identical, with the result that the rooms become smaller and their proportions are altered creating the physical perception of an atmosphere of growing oppression, without the understanding of its cause. In his latest work, Cryo-Tank Phoenix 1-2, Gregor Schneider illustrated the new utopias and hypotheses of eternity, moving away from traditional Western representations of death. Confronting the theories of the transhumanist movement, Schneider questions the human desire for eternity. Hence, he focuses on a topic that humanity has never stopped to interrogate. His sculptures ask the viewers to give attention to the absence of the dead body in the public space. Although the professional relationship with death needs to be considered as a product of postmodern culture, the disgust for the dead body is strategically banished together with everything that regards it, and this symbol of transience and of the temporariness of life is confined in a position which is completely opposed to the eternally young body. Hence, death as at the same time allegory of disappearance and as the possibility of new vitality. This entire context gestures towards the artist’s unfulfilled desire to exhibit a naturally dead man in order to highlight the presence of the dead body as a natural unification of absence and presence, even if it remains an unresolved paradox. The conservation of the dead body through freezing has imposed a methodology called Crionism, which for patients acts as an overcoming of the torture of death. A body, which is preserved in this way, is dead according to official medical science, while for transhumanists it is a patient who is temporarily suspended from life. Thus, death is deprived of its mastery and is made relative by a matter of perspectives. The presumed promise of the transhumanist movement denounces the completely destructive behaviors regarding the dead body. In the transhumanist utopia, the human being has to be intellectually and biologically enhanced in accordance with technological development and in contrast with techno-totalitarianism which commodifies the widespread illusion of death’s absence. In this way, the Day of Judgment becomes a mere technical problem, which is freed from Christian interpretative model but with no alternatives. The transhumanist project of immortality tries to suspend death, both as a biological process and as a symbol, in order to open a perspective of immortality that is made unconceivable by contemporary systems and structures.

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Gregor Schneider