Lars Eidinger | ƎVI⅃

Hold the word LIVE up to a mirror, then we read EVIL. Hold up a mirror to life, then we believe to recognize the evil in it. 
This phenomenon may be translated symbolically to Lars Eidinger’s photographs. But what is evil? “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” Hamlet reveals.

Evil and Live are anagrammatic palindromes, two sides of a linguistic coin. This is playfully visualized in Lars Eidinger’s work Cleveland: while from the obverse side we’d be able to read the life-sized word sculpture “LONGLIVEROCK” in front of the famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the photograph shows only the fragment “LIVE” from behind ‒ evil is cunningly cleaving its way. 
The reciprocal presence of evil and (to) live is elementary and inescapable in the Berlin artist’s photographs, videos and sculptures. 
Not all of his works are so viciously scathing, hard to digest or filled with a steadily swelling sadness. Some reveal unexpected architectonic spatial solutions, display childlike enthusiasm, prompt a shake of the head, or have a penchant for the often morbid Viennese humour. Common to the multifaceted variations of what is observed in everyday life is the name. 
The seemingly ludicrous title Autistic Disco clings to everything Lars Eidinger undertakes outside his acting. At first, this name denoted just his DJ practice; meanwhile it enthralls us in a flood of endless iterations, gracing his exhibitions and the recently published volume of photographs. 
The emphasis is placed intentionally on a term coined by the Swiss psychiatrist Paul Eugen Bleuler for a state of the self (from auto-, self and -ism, a quality of being or in the adjectival form -ic, of the corresponding nature). Not to be equated with navel-gazing, this form of self is considerably more than a humanistic agent of narcissisms. Sober reflections outside the artist’s person ‒ between the human being and his human environment ‒ are offered for negotiation. In what seems like a contradiction, this exteriority then appears in the second part of the title, which, through referring back to music, signals an externalized being-in-the-world.

This time the exhibition bears the title EVIL, the letters mirrored, the undertone of “Autistic Disco” lingers on. Glaringly prominent, the disco flair is encountered immediately upon entering the exhibition, a rotating glitter ball ‒exuberance tamed behind a cube of acrylic glass. The disco ball is not the only beast in the transparent cage. Directly next to it we notice a bat; and outside the exhibition we come across an empty monkey cage. And the golden hamster from childhood days is also stuck in a short-term prison, a claustrophobic toilet roll. We feel amused viewing this fauna and flora ‒ whereby it is barely possible to not notice Lars Eidinger’s liking for trees which wrap around fences. The emptied urban explorations and (architectural) still lifes evoke almost existentialistic thoughts, be it in the sterile packaged “madeleine moment” in the mesh of a car seat or in the Marlboro figure, forever rotating and then suddenly stock still.A cold shudder frequently washes over us with the human subjects however. Enveloped by the lurid aftertaste of a transgression we did not want to be aware of, we are overwhelmed by the encounters with marginalised groups, above all the homeless: in front of a retail space called “Habitat”, along the side of the Collegiate Church in Salzburg, on the ground in front of a jeweller’s, or sleeping in front of the glass wall of a furniture store, its unused beds flaunting their cynical emptiness. These visualisations of often overseen situations are neither moralising or confrontational. They offer and nurture a tender vulnerability, one that prompts us to actively pause and linger with the gravity of it all. Like a juggling act of all the emotions stirred, we are torn between the decision to immerse in the suffering of the world or betray our empathy and proceed to the next agreeable motif. Decide for the first, we abruptly find ourselves in the temporality of active standstill. For Lars Eidinger this stasis is equal to death. Death renders life appealing, its stagnation draws nourishment from the emotive dynamism of life. “Good as the opposite of evil is, in a sense, equivalent to it, as is the way of all opposites,” writes Simone Weil.[1]  The contradictions opening up between good death and evil life are omnipresent in Lars Eidinger’s photographs, videos and sculptures, brought to a pointed conclusion in a crucified Jesus as a wall clock. The body of Christ is the minute hand, the cross the hour hand, represented in the would-be ideal as cause and effect of all time. But the very crux, complete with the symbol of Christianity, reminds us twice a day of the fall of Lucifer, when, shortly before half past five, both seem to plunge headlong into the abyss. In place of the saving gesture of redemption from evil, we feel the tremors of an excruciating decline. To the bigots we softly say A.D., in the year of the Lord, in the sense of “Autistic Disco”.

Andrea Kopranovic, 2022 

[1] Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace, London / New York 1952 (1947), p. 70