Timo Fahler "DUSTOPIA"

16 September - 14 October 2023

It is said, in the realm of science, that glass is a state of matter rather than a material––neither solid nor liquid, but in between. Frozen in its moment of transition, forever hinting at change. It is called an amorphous solid––amorphous from the Ancient Greek literally meaning “no form.” In “DUSTOPIA,” timo fahler shapes the unshaped; by cutting and connecting pieces of glass and guiding light, by bending rebar into animated bearers of the work, and by molding plaster into body parts that insert the maker’s hand into the work. In his second solo exhibition with the gallery, fahler grasps at the imagined horrors and hopes of the future through our collective knowledge of the past. It follows the artist’s ongoing search to point out the relative nothingness in “good” and “bad”, and serves as a reminder that we both came from and will return to dust.


The show begins and ends with the singular work “us/them, me/you,” which presents a dual nightmare and dreamscape viewers fall into time and again throughout the exhibition. Red and blue clouds evoke both beauty and fear or water and fire; a brown and a white figure appear to scream but the clear glass representing their voices echoes only silence. Front and center, we see an earthly belly bracing two snake heads facing each other, mouths open and touching, each holding a human head. It is the wake of a (re)birth, a shedding, that could be the end of us–but not of everything.  us/them, me/you is a preface to regeneration into an unknown that could only be godly.


“DUSTOPIA” takes us across three chapters of work in which fahler places narratives around AI and surveillance techniques alongside the crumbling façade of American capitalism and imperialism, but intertwines those with fragments of personal joy and fantasy. In chapter one, comprising five iconographic works, and all soldered into found or hand-made fences, the face of freedom is called into question. Isolated imagery comprises the Statue of Liberty torch in a discarded chain link gate, the Apple logo in a window grate cut off by a burned down home, the Challenger space shuttle, and symbolic and patriotic American eagles inlaid in gates, emblematic of the dying dream of owning property. The series presents a scene of darkness alluding to the atrocious truths behind late stage capitalism and casts a shadow over the promise that the United States once held. 


But, right before one may fall into a depressing mania about the state of things, fahler taps into personal delights in the second chapter. We are reminded exactly of the beauty of our infinitesimal presence in the world; its magic and mystery reflected in the attributes of copper used as a weighted bearing. In copper zen mountain, we see mountains and vineyards, landscapes gleaned from the artist’s visual archive of cross country runs. Draping sun beams bathe a sublime utopia in which the magnitude of the natural world grounds us into a serenity, and depicts the coexistence of everyday tragedy with zen moments. It then only seems wise to take this acceptance of our ephemerality while following the science fictional turn the exhibition culminates into


Rooted in the continuation of life, irrelevant of our anthropocentric value systems, fahler introduces hybrid creatures in “DUSTOPIA’s” third and final chapter. A gigantic arachnid, four-headed serpent “amorph elenchi” that takes after the Aztec goddess Coatlicue, the goddess of rebirth, mother of the moon and the stars, stands eleven feet tall in the middle of the gallery. Her seemingly unearthed rebar legs lean into fahler’s speculation of AI tapping into the root systems of nature and so gaining control of all life through the pure knowledge that it holds. As mother of the stars, she regulates all dust from light to soil, allowing the world to feed itself; to eat oneself. Depending on the angle her four faces merge into two, resembling the facing snakeheads in us/them, me/you, an amorphous creature biting another or being forever trapped in transition.


-Lara Schoorl
Installation Views