The idea of performance has been a subtle but constant force in Peter Wächtler's work (Hannover, 1979). The drawings, animations and sculptures that he created early in his career were often starring animals that, like characters in a fable, performed human actions: actions that assumed an audience, a spectator or a witness. Dancing, working or gracing the observer with long confessional monologues, creatures such as wolves, rats, crocodiles or dragons were transformed into harmless and pleasant beings, possessing an almost irresistible bonhomie, humour and attraction.
It was common, however, for the amused and complacent look that these beings at first aroused to be slowly replaced by a certain uneasiness - by the discovery that, behind their cute appearance, they manifested signs of neuroses, disenchantments and frustrations that were very familiar. As if embodying our small collective anxieties and disillusions, these characters and their actions were the mirror of our latent existential anguish. And of a certain melancholy and social ineptitude, too.+ Keep Reading
Recently, Wächtler's work has been moving away from the use of animals, but his attention remains focused on exploring the discomfort caused by a persistent sense of inadequacy. His present-day characters are often supernatural, immune to time and its hardships, but no more able to establish affective and emotional bonds and to operate functionally in their surroundings. The world is alien to them; the Other is an enigma. None of them, however, fails to play their proper role in the narratives that Wächtler orchestrates and in which, at times, fleeting glimpses of redemption appear.
Bruno Marchand, Curator- Resume
Neuroscience for example is a science that I am not interested in at all, to say the least, because actually it creeps me out. When I see an article with Neuroscience in the title, I put the newspaper down. I am NOT sentimentally unbalanced and I am NOT a knapsack of lukewarm emotions totally out of control that can't stand the cold grip of science. I myself have heard thousands of lectures in my life and held even more than that in my years in Paris. But whenever I see the word Neuroscience, it gives me a really bad feeling in my basement. A feeling like this: There is a beach party, seen from the sea. You see the lights and the cocktails, and you can hear the upbeat music and people are dancing and kissing under the lanterns. Then the music strangely distorts and fades out, not into another song, but into the dark holy hum of the sea at night, the sea that seeks not to understand anything that I will ever feel. That's the feeling I have when I read the word Neuroscience. That's relatively new. Before I had the same thing with the sentence: "I am really worried about you." I recall that feeling vividly. The same beach party and then the music starts to fade and sounds eerie and the beat gets leaden. The lights pan out of the frame and there is nothing but the darkness of the sea that seeks not to understand. I think everybody has other words that freak them out like this and it is totally ok. Trust me. What I personally learned from it is this: Everything, scientifically spoken, every result there is, is a result of manipulation. Manipulation of material, thoughts, words. A car is a result of manipulation and so is a house, I am a result of manipulation, and so is the sink. So? Not a problem at all but when you think of it, you have to admit that I am right and that nothing is left alone and that there is no place to hide. Except, and you saw that one coming for sure, the sea that does not seek to understand anything I will ever feel.
Peter Wächtler, 2019
Let's just say for now that every time you leave the house there is song playing that only you can hear. That song stays with you through the day, there is also an evening variation of this song and one rare remix for when you feel happy. It is not like a hum or whisper, but a full-grown song that starts with a very dry beat and there is a saxophone in there towards the end. So this tune is yours. Nobody else can hear it and it is you who can sing to it, freely and aloud on real stages or on those you are dreaming of. Now this song starts to sound different. You close the door put on your knapsack and all but that song is so different all of a sudden. It's ok for some time. There are cases where the song restores itself to its previous version. Not only is the song distorted, it also fades out.
Or it is playing at this annoying volume at which people listen to music in their cars. Hardly audible, like a mole pissing in your ears. No. No pissing. Like a mole whispering your death date into your ears and you just can't understand it. Moles are blind not mute, I know, but they have very low voices. So in any case your song is sung. You go to work and sit down but just then the door is kicked in and your people come in bare chested and sing your song aloud and they are totally shit-faced and sweaty at 11 o'clock in the morning, as this is when you sit down to work normally, and it is so loud that you your brain fills up with sentimental acid immediately. Red alert, sirens, flashing red light. That's bullshit. No acid. They, they sing so loud that you can't hear the mole in your ear whispering your death date. No. They sing loud and they have long white beards and you can't work and go home.
Of course that song, if you still can hear it or not, is not your soul. That is something else. But it is something you liked very much, and it belonged to you alone and now it is gone forever and you can't talk with anybody about it. So far so good. It only gets bad, as in really bad, when you want other people to feel the same. Sometimes, rarely, once a year at the most I admit it, I want other people to feel the same. True, there were periods when I wanted it that all the time. Every day. But that is long ago, when I still lived in Porto. But still: People keep telling me that they are worried about me. Full stop. I am also worried about people.
Peter Wächtler, 2019
DESIGN AND WEBSITE
Studio Macedo Cannatà & Queo