The medium of video forms a central element in Søren Thilo Funder’s art practice. For a number of years he has explored power relations in modern society in visually compelling works that draw on the formal and narrative traits of feature films.
But in Thilo Funder’s works the storyline is minimised and the camera movements lingering, making the cinematic scenes condensed and poetic. The works are often based on extensive research, and address issues like international politics, economics, surveillance, collective memory and forms of resistance, through which the artist probes the relationship between the individual and community in the contemporary political landscape.
The pivotal point of Søren Thilo Funder’s solo exhibition You’re Gonna Die Up There is a new video work in which the history of film and Cold War symbolism are interwoven in the story of an astronaut who is afraid to travel into outer space. Inspired by the fictional character Captain Billy Cutshaw – who first appeared in The Exorcist (1973) immediately prior to a space mission, and later as a patient in a mental asylum in The Ninth Configuration (1980) – the work orbits around what happened to Cutshaw between the two cult films. In Thilo Funder’s version, the captain meets his alter ego from the future when driving through Washington DC. Against the background of this meeting, the work reflects on the psychological but also social and societal implications of space travel. Because what is progress – and for who? And why does Billy Cutshaw refuse to go to the moon?
This is a theme that unfolds in the other works in the exhibition, which branches out in a staged series of image, sound, text, animation and sculptural objects. In the grey zone between the past, the present and the future, Søren Thilo Funder pursues ideas about alternative communities and ways of life resulting from the colonisation of alien planets. There is, for example, a model of a functional settlement in outer space – a sterile, controlled environment based on the collective housing units of socialism. Another work depicts a ritualised scene by a group of ‘space critical’ youth, who in an accompanying manifesto urge people to stay on earth.
From different yet overlapping perspectives, the exhibition questions the blind faith in progress that has been the primus motor of the ideologies and social organisation of the 20th century, and asks what role this plays in our collective memory and self-perception. In continuation of Søren Thilo Funder’s earlier work, the exhibition combines elements of science fiction and socio-political critique, utopia and dystopia as a basis for an investigation of new forms of political representation, affiliation and possibilities for action.
Futurist Youth (In Defense of Billy Cutshaw), 2016. 2-channel video installation, print on curtain
You’re Gonna Die Up There, 2016. Installation view
Swerve (You’re Gonna Die Up There), 2016. 3-channel video installation