Sebastian Utzni at Herrmann Germann Contemporary

Artist: Sebastian Utzni

Exhibition title: Up in the Sky

Venue: Herrmann Germann Contemporary, Zurich, Switzerland

Date: February 25 – March 31, 2017

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Herrmann Germann Contemporary, Zurich

The German dramatist Heiner Müller put it thus: “The universe of ideas is spent, only markets remain”, describing an unbearable emptiness. Müller’s simple formula is: “Capitalism makes us tired of life”. Coca-Cola, comic books, pop music – therein lay a feeling, or a promise, of a lighter, freer life. From a current-day perspective things look changed. The makers of the American cartoon series ‘The Simpsons’ demonstrated visionary skills 17 years ago, when they caricatured Donald Trump as US President. Fiction became reality, popular culture and real life unite. Pop is no longer lightness, it leads instead to a new form of bondage. Sebastian Utzni views his exhibition as a work about the work in contrast to reality. In a new art context comics, Barbie bodies, lyrics and sci-fi characters cross the boundary into our reality. Utzni is interested in points where pop and real events meet. Everything is charged with fiction, while on the other hand visions, thoughts and events are worked through in fiction.

The series M-Maybe is based on a collection of comics from the 70s – 90s which seem to anticipate the destruction of the World Trade Center. The attack in 2001, known as 9/11, had far-reaching consequences and left a deep impression in our reality.
“I just want a Picasso, in my casa. No, my castle. I‘m a hassa, no I‘m an asshole. I‘m never satisfied, can‘t knock my hustle […]”. Dark clouds gather, as they do in Utzni’s work & Jay-Z sings us a song. Above visitors’ heads the lyrics of Jay-Z’s song Picasso Baby flow along a ticker screen encased in a black cloud.

In the HD video 286 Rules of Acquisition Utzni works with a system of rules from the Ferengi, an ultra-capitalist race from the Star Trek TV seris. Capitalism is a religion to which everything else is subordinate. The visitor is presented the principles of action, like a mantra, by a 3D Ferengi-character.

Drei nackte Frauen: Mao, Marx, Lenin (Three Naked Women: Mao, Marx, Lenin) are bronze sculptures collaged, or sampled, from Barbie bodies and the heads of the three thinkers Mao, Marx and Lenin. Trophy-like they thus enter Sebastian Utzni’s pop heaven.

Flanerie is the foundation for Sebastian Utzni’s artistic practice, trying to overcome dividing lines be-tween art and life, politics and science. The artist becomes finder and collector, scientist and creator, who goes to the points of abrasion of his time and who absorbs societal, cultural and quotidian contexts into his work.

Sebastian Utzni (born 1981 in Augsburg, Germany) studied fine arts at Zurich University of the Arts and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire since 2008. Since 2016 lecturer at the University of the Arts Lucerne. Selected exhibitions: 2016 Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich CH; Kunstmuseum Olten CH; 2015 Kunsthaus Grenchen, CH; Rosa Brux, Brussels B; 2013 Herrmann Germann Contemporary, Zurich CH; Alpineum Produzentengalerie, Lucerne CH; Kunsthaus Grenchen CH; 2012 Maison André Gouveia, Paris F; Yizhao Space, Beijing CN; 2011 sihlquai55 offspace, Zurich CH; 2010 Custom House Studios, Westport IRL; Dienstgebäude, Zürich CH; Museum Bärengasse, Zurich CH; The Forgotten Bar, Berlin, D; Patriot Hall Gallery, Edinburgh UK. Residencies: 2011 Cité internationale des Arts, Paris F; 2010 Custom House Studios, Westport IRL. He lives and works in Zurich.

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Sebastian Utzni, 286 Rules of Acquisition, 2017, edition 5 + 1APHD video loop with sound, dimensions variable

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Sebastian Utzni, Drei nackte Frauen: Marx, Lenin, Mao, 2017, each edition 3 + 1APbronze, 29 x 6 x 7 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, Drei nackte Frauen: Marx, 2017, edition 3 + 1APbronze, 29 x 6 x 7 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, Drei nackte Frauen: Lenin, 2017, edition 3 + 1APbronze, 29 x 6 x 7 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, Drei nackte Frauen: Mao, 2017, edition 3 + 1APbronze, 29 x 6 x 7 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, & Jay-Z sings us a song, 2017, edition 3 + 1APLightbox, black acrylic glass, 38 x 125 x 18 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1973), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 51.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1976), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 26.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1979), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 26.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1982), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 51.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1983), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 51.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1985), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 51.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1985), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 26.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1986), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 51.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1989), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 51.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1989), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 51.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1990), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 51.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1992), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 31.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1994), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 26.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1996), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 51.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1997), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 51.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (1999), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 51.5 cm

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Sebastian Utzni, M-Maybe (2001), 2016, Comic, framed, 41.5 x 51.5 cm

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