Nowhere Left To Live
February 25 - April 8, 2017
Saturday, February 25
6 - 9 pm
And when I saw the Lamb open the sixth seal, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black like sackcloth of goat hair, and the whole moon turned blood red. -Revelation 6:12
We’ve got to live no matter how many skies have fallen. -D.H. Lawrence, Apocalypse
AA|LA is pleased to present Nowhere Left To Live, a solo exhibition by Peter Fankhauser, created in response to very literal ends, unsettled histories, and subtle currents that catch us in their polarizing undertow. Terminations, relocations, disappointments, and frustrations coalesce as if to say, “Time is up.” Drawing upon biblical references, archival film footage, and the aesthetics of hacking, Fankhauser considers the “end” at the beginning of a new American age.
Nowhere Left To Live asks: How do we contend with time—with intuited impermanence, and knowing, in the end, the world will break our heart? In an age when alternative facts, fake news, cyber espionage, and Kellyanne Conway herald an impending end, how do we acknowledge that the end does not lend meaning, the end is meaning?
Images of digital mutations and bodily aberrations—harbingers of a changed world—emerge from the background of media blackout in the diptychs An Idea (2017) and Blood and Sackcloth (2016), while in Vortex (2016), the frame is used as an optical device to obfuscate ecological crises. The photograph, adhered to the ground at the viewer’s feet, travels through layers of frame after frame only to arrive at a devitalized grove, husked and felled by the poisons of industrial agriculture.
In the video xxx (2016), flag shaped frames scroll continuously in shades of red, white, and blue, interrupted by scrambled digital signals and Aryan stripteases and flanked by digital ghosts that become signifiers of media as an independent actor, wielding influence from the extended limits of control.
Scrambled signals and hacked imagery also feature prominently in Devil’s Daughters (2013), a heavily manipulated video based on footage of Mae West’s rendition of “Troubled Waters,” taken from the film Belle of the Nineties (1934), during which racial tensions, provoked by “color blindness,” lead to an acerbic end. The video animates the thread that ties West’s song to a revival meeting, attended exclusively by plantation slaves, into a digital hellscape of lurching pixelation.
As a counterpoint, Blood for Blood (2017) pans quickly from depictions of one beleaguered soldier to the next during a black and white video sourced from World War II propaganda films, written and produced with the express purpose of rallying Americans to Russia’s aid. “Blood for Blood; Death for Death,” as it’s written in the video’s subtitles, echoes like a protest chant of grim uncertainty—like marching forward while the ground gives way beneath our feet. An opponent, once so clearly defined, shifts until fighting the “real enemy” becomes an exercise in coercion rather than consent.
These works will set the stage for a series of readings, related in style and content to the exhibition, during which Nowhere Left To Live will become a gathering place for those who share the notion that the world has suddenly come crashing down. Whether it arrives over the next four years, or in another four millennia, the end, for many of us, feels precariously near.
The reading coinciding with the opening, curated by Hyunjee Nicole Kim, will feature the Los Angeles- based writers an. cinquepalmi, Nicole Kelly, and Gerald Maa, proffering alternative American narratives that were once preserved and concealed—now presented anew. By interrogating the brutality that rises to the surface in times of despair, these writers confront histories of violence woven into personal and national traumas to challenge the generational passage of pain and to crystallize moments of hope in a time of crippling uncertainty.
Peter Fankhauser is a committed member of the MTV generation, brought up on television: music on television, television on film, film on the internet. Narrative’s mutation across different media platforms has become a recurring theme in his work and a primary preoccupation. He received an MFA from CUNY-City College in New York City and has shown at independent and alternative spaces nationally and abroad including Judson Memorial Church (New York City), Death By Audio (Brooklyn), Silent Barn (Brooklyn), AC Institute (New York City), and the Meltdown Festival (London). He currently lives and works in Omaha, NE. Nowhere Left To Live is his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles.