Art & Photography

UBERMORGEN: u s e r u n f r i e n d l y

William Kherbeck finds poignant social commentary and appalled satire at lizvlx and Hans Bernhard’s debut UK solo show

A dimly lit interrogation cell by UBERMOGEN
Superenhanced (A Parallel Universe) 2013 by UBERMORGEN

When you live in a world where corporations can take out workplace safety insurance on their employees under a legal construction known as “dead peasant insurance”, you hardly need artists to “destabilise our understanding of the influence of technology”, but, if the press release is to be believed, then that’s one of UBERMORGEN’s mission in their new show at Carroll/Fletcher, u s e r u n f r i e n d l y. If satire has, in the assessment of the great Tom Lehrer, been redundant since the mid 1970s, what hope does critique have for keeping up with the lunacies of the world? At its best, u s e r u n f r i e n d l y finds ways of letting a world of media constructions in the guise of politicians and soundbites disguised as information speak for themselves with a greater clarity than they do in that strange performance that stars us all tentaively titled ‘reality’.

For me the most affecting works on show included the microhell of ‘Superenhanced (A Parallel Universe)’ which consists of a recreation of a contemporary-vintage War on Terror interrogation facility complete with handcuffs and chains. Somehow you can easily imagine Art Youth turning this little parallelogram of a universe into a sick kind of playground, chaining each other up, making a drinking game out of waterboarding and that only makes the social commentary of the work more poignant: escapism based on situation people can’t escape from. ’Oldify’ was also a seriously mindmelting experience. The aging process as app so you can contemplate your future infirmities on the train to the job you hate. There’s also much to take from the work ‘(V)ote-Auction’ which takes video from a CNN discussion of an exchange which was developed for the purpose of people to trade their votes for cash and poses it against a paper sculpture of legal documents from suits related to the exchange. It’s appalled satire and bad history now, but don’t be surprised if this idea comes back into fashion some day as ‘electoral reform’.

It’s a very large show with lots of works, and some, like the array of pixellated oil paintings, feel a bit more laboured; ‘Do You Think That’s Funny? – The Snowden Files’ treads the DMZ of gilbness, but when you take the entire show as a snapshot of a moment, all the exultant transience is validated. To ignore the determination to conceal what can’t be distorted or ironised to nonexistence is as bad as participating. Nihilism gets you nothing seems to be UBERMORGEN’s final argument and it’s hard to argue with that.

u s e r u n f r i e n d l y runs until the 16th of November at Carroll/Fletcher