Frieder Haller's first solo exhibition with 14a opens in Hamburg

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Frieder Haller's first solo exhibition with 14a opens in Hamburg
Installation view.

HAMBURG.- 14a is presenting Frieder Haller’s first solo exhibition with the gallery titled Scum Scam Scum. The film of the same name is the second part of the trilogy Good times, bad times, which consists of Architecture (2019), Scum Scam Scum (2021) and 24/7 ist kein Leben (tba).

Scum Scam Scum is a chamber drama that comments on the underlying structures and dynamics of relationships within (post-) modern societies. The film is composed of multiple sequences, in part dramatic, that are characterised by humour and pathos. At the beginning of the film, the viewer gets a glimpse of an evening among friends, which promptly develops into a ruthless power play amongst the different characters. In moments of rejection, the characters’ egocentric goals, deep-seated frustrations and insecurities as well as their own intimate desires and personal aspirations are revealed. While the conversations are on the surface, often composed of seemingly one-line platitudes that remain rather abstract in their banality, they are coinstantaneously simultaneously funny. To make this explicit, Haller constellates dialogues and actions from his own conversations with friends, his dreams, sitcoms such as ‘Friends’ or ‘Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten’ and movies from Hal Hartley or Rainer Werner Fassbinder that seem familiar at first, but through the course of the film transform into exaggerated and brutal modifications of daily life.

Throughout the film, Haller examines the notion that (post-) modern societies can be characterised as a cultural class in which subjects differ from one another not only in terms of unevenly distributed resources, but also and especially, in terms of their lifestyle and cultural capital. This is particularly emphasised in the apartment, which serves as the main stage in the drama Scum Scam Scum. Stocked with so-called design classics such as the Corbusier sofa, USM shelving and Memphis style lamps, these objects not only define the space in which the action takes place but they create the content of the dialogues.

That our expressions of taste are in great part determined by our social origin, accounted for by our class background (Bourdieu, ‘Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste’;1984, 1979) is a thought that Haller spells out. Both in the film and in the works, an expanded and appropriated group of forms create new spaces and can be interpreted as curated symbolisation of a standardised ‘good taste’. Following this theory, namely that those with a high volume of cultural capital are most likely to determine what constitutes taste within society, then taste turns not only into capital but into a representative of ones own privilege. On one hand, the works ‘Memphis Blues (after Martine Bedin I-VI)’ reflect Haller’s admiration for Memphis design and its core idea of individualism. On the other, the works represent the failure of getting close to it.

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