Since the dawn of time, humans have created all ways to detect logic in the unfolding of events: starting with the study of the cycle of nature and the stars in order to be able to adapt to it, then with religion or other artifacts that influenced morals. In this last century, we can identify these two moments as those leading to a new perception of reality: the murder of God and the goal to replace Him. Clearly, the role played by modern physics, in this case, is one to take into consideration, not just in philosophy but especially in contemporary art. For example, is evident from the early years of the XX century: let’s think about Cezanne’s latest works with the change from a Euclidean perspective to a 4th-dimensional one, or more evident examples such as cubism. Quantum physics started playing a key role in techniques before and in technologies after and, as a result, became more and more mainstream. Think for a moment how Schrödinger’s paradox became a meme base in order to understand how the world has shifted its point of view. With that said, in the modern era of hyper-presence and hyper-connection we’re still left wondering whether events unfold due to predetermined destiny or mere coincidence. Some of us still have the commodity of religion – or, in a broader and more modern sense, let’s say spirituality, but many more couldn’t fit in the paths paved by religious education and rely unsuccessfully to their heritage, trying to gain a bliss of consciousness. Those who don’t believe wonder and wander looking for answers, trying to be present when overstimulated, on a mission to define their own reality.
With HIC ET NUNC, Pascal Möhlmann has gathered his cultural heritage, beliefs, education, and experience, with the purpose of playing with those serendipitous moments we often overlook. See, in an actual sliding door moment we’re not able to understand how good and bad coexist, we have to let some time pass, gain consciousness, and eventually start connecting the dots and see the hints that led to it. Likewise, if the spectator looks at Möhlmann’s body of work but is not into it, won’t notice all the clues the artist left in over a year of preparing for this exhibition. When entering the exhibition, we dive deep into two-dimensional happenings: each one of the life-sized paintings has in its title a referral to a specific time of day, but we’re not going to find any “angel number” or other metaphysical suggestion. Things happen by coincidence, per a bigger scheme, but it’s up to each attendant to find an answer, or not.
At first glance, the spectator can recognize different poses: some borrowed by old masters, such as in 15:01 and 03:23 where we find a clear connection with Death and the Maiden or Three Graces, and other goofier ones taken from graphic novels and cartoons, like those of 21:35 and 17:22. Zooming in from a more global perspective and really indulging in each piece, the spectator is going to recognize firstly the subject fashion statements: like in both 15:01 and 03:23, where the classical poses meet modern fashion and suggest a concept of “NEW BEAUTY” as stated in one of the subjects t-shirts. At 15:48, two women bump into each other in a setting that gives us no clues other than a quote from baroque mannerisms. They’re in a bucolic area, but all dressed up, one in black with pearly white AirForce 1’s, and the other one with more romantic tones of pink slip-on Vans and red Adidas leggings. The one dressed in love tones lost a shoe in the impact as if it was as strong as the clash with reality after the infatuation phase.
Entering a micro-world each time, in the already quoted piece 17:22, the subject is falling because stepped on a bubblegum. But she was holding a dart, that you can find just near the crime scene, a symbol for play, of course, but in a game that requires a strong focus, creating an amazing short-circuited meaning. And also in 16:32, the smaller piece of the whole exhibition, the it-girl starring the canvas is depicted in the moment of bursting bubblegum, and if you look into it you’ll see that one of her tattoos, the one on her chest, says “BAM”, mimicking the sound of the bubblegum that is still sticking on her face. Similarly, in 21:35 the subject falling into a hellish environment lets us peek into her back tattoo, which says “HERE” quoting the exhibition leitmotif. She’s falling right there, at that moment, leaving us wondering what’ the sin that led her there. In 13:51, on the other hand, the woman falling on a hose in a more neutral environment has a tattoo that says “NOT NOW” on a cross, as if she’s not ready to be called for judgment day, and still in time to wash away her sins. The last two pieces are the actual paraphrase of more than meets the eye: even though, as we said, the artist’s goal isn’t the suggestion of a real answer to the question, in the here and now things happen, at least with consequences. For example, 11:27 is a self-portrait of the artist. He fell on a similar floor as the one portrayed in 17:22 and 13:51, but the color palette traces suggest a sliding movement as the color left a clear trail. He’s laying there, with his powerful tools of the trade, as if he couldn’t stop doing what he does even in an unconscious moment. This path crosses with another one, suggested by the dart and pack of bubblegum, and leaves us with a statement on the artists’ work that words could not meet. Lastly, another piece full of clues on this particular exhibition is 20:52. A teenager encountered on his way a small tree, where he bumped into face first. On the tree near the subject’s face, you’ll see a carved “X”, as if it’s a target, and the same composition is suggested by the two bones on the left side. The line that creates these two elements meets the forearm of the boy where we can read “NOWHERE” in his tattoo. So, if you let the works guide you when you visit the exhibition once again, you realize that you are being led by the artist to focus on what is happening NOW/HERE, at Plan X.
Text by Federica Pogliani