Crisis and Critique, 2012 by Per-Oskar Leu

Per-Oskar Leu
Crisis and Critique, 2012
Single-channel video with two-channel audio, 27 min loop
Edition of 4 with 2 artist proofs
Published by Triple Canopy
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Following “Crisis and Critique,” artist Per-Oskar Leu’s video and audio-sculptural installation for Triple Canopy’s Brooklyn venue in February 2012, and “Sixty-Five Years of Treason,” a re-imagining of that exhibition for audiences online, Triple Canopy commissioned Leu to create a video edition of his multi-format project. All three iterations consider the distance between historical truths and fiction and ask: What role can or should the artist play during watershed political moments?

Taking as its point of departure German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s appearance in 1947 before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Crisis and Critique weaves together German films of the 1930s and 40s that dramatize the trial format. These include Fritz Lang’s M (1931) and Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (1933); Brecht’s Kuhle Wampe, oder: Wem gehört die Welt? (1932) and Hangmen Also Die! (1943); and the film adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera (1931). In combining archival recordings of the 1947 testimony with excerpts from period films, Leu investigates the Brechtian Verfremdungseffekt (“distancing effect”) as it relates to the playwright’s personal experience of this critical moment in American history.

Per-Oskar Leu lives and works in Oslo and New York, where he is currently attending the Whitney Independent Study Studio Program. His recent solo exhibitions include “Vox Clamantis in Deserto,” 1/9 Unosunove, Rome; “Part Thirteen,” Vanish, Frankfurt; “BFF,” Johan Berggren Gallery, Malmö, Sweden; and “Ideal Setting (with Fredrik Værslev),” Ping-Pong Gallery, Malmö, Sweden (all 2010). In 2009, he was commissioned by Frieze to create a site-specific work. Leu has studied at the Städelschule, Frankfurt (2008–2009), Glasgow School of Art (2006), and National Academy of Fine Art, Oslo (2002–2006). “A Forcing of Barriers,” a related work by Leu, was published in the tenth issue of Triple Canopy.

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