Peter Rösel – Glücksmaschine

March 5, 2016 - April 16, 2016

With his mountain landscapes Peter Rösel is showing scenes of particular beauty: existentially charged border regions between sky and earth, whose reduction of form and colour reveal a tremendous abundance of gradations. Identified by the GPS-code as individual places, Rösel’s mountain ranges remain commonplace – the motif is saturated with art and film history. Thus, Rösel’s peak-paintings are firmly based on a collective visual experience above which, high summits of individual experience pile up: a desire for adventure and childhood dreams, wanderlust, a longing for freedom or a spiritual quest may be felt – just as much as objections against kitsch and an allergy to idylls. The emotional flame is being kindled by a painterly illusionism that captures us still against our better judgement: Even when we look at the sides for the GPS coordinates, which transforms those mountain worlds into flatly clamped cotton stripes, soaked in oil paint, their seductive appeal as “windows to the world” is not diminished.

The border excursions that Peter Rösel undertakes into the adjacent realms of reason and the imaginary may just as much result in ambiguous paintings as in serious-clownesque machines. The portable installation depicting the local speed of the rotation of the earth is such an apparatus. It fits into a violin case and contains a microprocessor, cable coils and ten orange ping pong balls. The wired balls, which are equipped with an LED-interior, can be stretched out to demonstrate the speed of the rotation of the earth at the very spot they are being exhibited by means of a quick succession of light flashes. For the human eye barely recognizable, the light passes the entire length of the installation with the speed of a tenth of a second and confronts the spectator with the fact that standing here supposedly still on the ground of the capital city actually means that s/he is moving through space at the speed of 282 meters and 74 centimetres per second. But still, this head-spinning information bursts all limits of our imagination and opens up existential questions: What, for instance, does it mean for the way we look at the world if facts exceed even the most absurd fictive ideas? And - knowing about our ground speed - how stable do our living circumstances actually feel?

Peter Rösel’s Glücksmaschine (Happiness Machine) is another magical vessel. The pitch-black bowl contains six thousand dif ferent little silver plates and a mechanism to eject them – only one single time – in a sparkling silver shower. In its resting position, the Glücksmaschine is reminiscent of a celestial globe that is turned inside out; not for nothing does the amount of sheer silver plates hidden in it’s interior match up with the number of stars theoretically visible to the naked eye. Once launched, the globe would explode into an overwhelming shower of stars. But would one actually risk this brief spell that won’t return? 

Or is the promise of happiness rooted in our yearning imagination of the globe’s hidden sky and in the knowledge of the gadget’s sparkling eruptive potential? Whether as a responsible owner one would ever activate the Glücksmaschine or not, it demonstrates what is true for this machine and indeed generally for the art of Peter Rösel: it activates us.

(excerpt from an essay by Dr. Karsten Müller, Ernst Barlach Haus Hamburg)

Peter Rösel (*1966) lives and works in Berlin. Throughout the last years his works were exhibited in numerous institutions, including: Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi, India; Media Art Lab, Moscow; Ausstellungshalle of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn; Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto, Japan; Ernst Barlach Haus Hamburg; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main; National Art Gallery of Namibia; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt am Main; Sprengel Museum, Hannover; Haus am Waldsee, Berlin; Kunsthalle, Bern. His works are to be found in important national and international collections such as the Collection of Contemporary Art of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Sprengel Museum, the FRAC Alsace and the FRAC Lorain. Since 2007, he has been teaching as a professor at the art academy in Weißensee, Berlin.