Continuing previous use of fictional situations as the basis of installations, German artist Robert Elfgen’s starting point at westlondonprojects is an account of a European expedition to the Amazon. The narrative is described through images, objects and video projections, which specifically utilise the dual gallery layout of the space.
Building upon themes relating to travel and exploration he has created a setting in which gallery visitors navigate through the aftermath of the fictional Amazon jungle explorer’s transformation. In the first room, totemic images stare out from an altar assembled from sombre shades of wood marquetry, sandblasted glass and stone. In the second room, a spinning mechanical palette of video projectors presents the transformed explorers, now spectral Elvin ghosts, engaged in Eurhythmic dance. Instead of discovering Eldorado, the explorers were altered by the sovereignty of nature. With this funny cosmology, Elfgen weaves together the imaginary and the real; the work describes and re-enacts the transmutation of a base quest for gold to redemption through an aesthetic celebratory embrace of darkness.
Elfgen is interested in places – made up, discovered, looked for – and the means to get there. Throughout his work he has built vehicles – a boat, raft, car, bus, or a star fighter – some of which function, others do not. More than an actual trip, his art is about the idea of going somewhere, an opportunity to experience and create possible worlds.
Born 1972, Cologne, Germany
Lives and works in Cologne
Born in 1972, Robert Elfgen studied at art academies in Braunschweig with John Armleder and in Duesseldorf with Rosemarie Trockel. He lives and works in Cologne where he currently holds The Imhoff Studio Scholarship. Recent shows include 1+1=3 Elfgen Technik at the Bonn Kunstverein in 2005. In London, he has presented work in group exhibitions at Corvi-Mora (2004) where among other works he built The Raft, 2004, with Kai Althoff and also at Sprueth Magers Lee in 2005 featuring his work Zweieck, that looked like a Star Fighter.
Wie man wird, was man ist, Sprüth Magers Projekte, Munich
Die Nacht des Jägers, High and Low Fine Art Fair, Frankfurt
Expedition, westlondonprojects, London
1+1=3 Elfgen Technik, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany
Peter-Mertes-Stipendium, Kunstverein, Bonn
Raumtaucher, Simultanhalle, Köln
Lieber Friedrich, Kunstverein, Kassel
Wo warst du! All Ambra, Tiroler Künstlerschaft, Innsbruck
Regarding Düsseldorf – Young art in Düsseldorf, 701 e.V., Düsseldorf, Germany
Supra Carput Esse, Corvi-Mora Gallery, London
Akademierundgang, Ausst. Deutschen Bank
Immer die beiden Anderen, Neue Bügelei, Wuppertal