“Altmann’s poetic détournement of the corporate language of advertising has echoes of fin de siècle modernist experiments with disintegrating language and concrete poetry. The slogans float disembodied on the walls, in a similarly nonsensical way evoking Mallarmé’s 1914 epic poem, Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard (A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance).”
– Steven Warwick, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkies, 2021
In his new exhibition Butcher Block, Mathis Altmann (*1987, Munich) witnesses the millennial moment and its ongoing collapse between work and leisure. In the grip of a burgeoning meritocracy, his generation’s drive to improve peaks in a perpetual need for self-glorification.
But improvement is a fraught idea. Though often used in optimistic narratives about technological innovation, the word originally stems from making something ‘more profitable.’ Is there progress in the obsession with advance- ment? And who can really tell the difference?
Both satirical and introspective, Butcher Block shakes up the co-dependency of contemporary narratives like community, labor, technology and capital. Typically over the top, the artist points toward the agency and com- plicity of his own generation.
In his new series of LED wall sculptures and illuminated signs, he merges punk kitsch nostalgia with tech glam- our fetishes. Corporeal bodies fragment into pixelation and digitized abstraction. In defense of non-compliance, the artist creates absurd aberrations of the branding strategies of a global co-working company. Defiance is an old dance, showcasing disintegration as some kind of progress. In this Ballardian slapstick comedy, success and failure are superimposed.
Mathis Altmann currently lives and works in Berlin and Zurich. In 2011, he received a BA from the Zurich Uni- versity of the Arts, where he has taught since 2016. His work has been shown at The Luma Foundation, Zurich (2020); Mécènes du Sud, Montpellier (2019); Istituto Svizzero, Milan (2018), MAAT, Lisbon (2017); Swiss Institute, New York (2016); Palais de Tokyo (2016); and Halle für Kunst, Lüneburg (2015). He has been awarded the Manor Art Prize (2021), the Prix Mobilière (2016), the Swiss Art Award (2015), and the ZBK Art Award (2013). In 2021, his work will be shown at Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg (2021) and Kunstmuseum Winterthur (2021). On the occasion of Mathis Altmann’s solo exhibition at Kunstmuseum Winterthur (2021), Lenz Press will publish the artist’s first monograph.