Loretta Fahrenholz

Trash The Musical

April 26 – July 29, 2023

Fluentum is pleased to present Trash The Musical, a solo exhibition by Loretta Fahrenholz and the last in the program series In Medias Res: Media, (Still) Moving. The works on view in Trash The Musical emerged from a two-year dialogue with Fluentum’s historically marked exhibition space. Through a site-specific series of images, an object installation as well as a new film, the exhibition interrogates historiography as performance. Trash The Musical is the most extensive new work Fahrenholz has been commissioned to make for an exhibition and her largest exhibition to date in Berlin.

The 37-minute film Trash The Musical (2023), from which the exhibition also takes its name, emerged over the last two years in collaboration with performance artist Alicia McDaid. From Los Angeles, McDaid travels back to Philadelphia, her former hometown, to empty out her uncle's house. During the months needed to get the chaos under control, the rooms become her daily stage for performing musical numbers and bizarre self-presentations to post on her online platforms. Surrounded by her uncle's belongings piled up around her, she slips into the roles of celebrities and movie characters and engages her followers with makeup tutorials, TikTok dances, and social criticism. Assembled into a wild post-cinematic collage by Fahrenholz, McDaid's performances are a radical exploration of personal anxieties and questions of aging, unfulfilled dreams, ghosting, and the difference between art and trash.

The works Once Upon a Time in Enemy-Occupied France (2023) and i need to make mistakes just to learn who i am (2023) are a continuation of Fahrenholz's interest in the processes of digital imagery. Once Upon a Time in Enemy-Occupied France (2023) is a series of 30 AI-generated photographs retelling the five chapters of Quentin Tarantino's Hollywood blockbuster Inglourious Basterds. In his films, Tarantino frequently draws on the sci-fi subgenre of alternate history. Thus, when Hitler and his SS entourage are consumed by flames in a Paris movie theater, Tarantino is thereby staging a speculative revision of Nazi history. Today, Fluentum occupies a building that initially served as the administrative headquarters of the Reichsluftwaffe during National Socialism and in 2008 as a location for the film. Now, fourteen years after Tarantino's revenge fantasy, Fahrenholz brings the plot back to that location. By now, the instability of images and their narratives is no longer mere sleight of hand, it is our everyday mediated reality.

On the exhibition’s upper floor, mushroom-shaped lamps and wood carvings from German living rooms of various generations sprout from the floor. The digital prints displayed on the walls depict people from different decades picnicking together in the woods. Fed with our shared historical archives, the motifs these algorithms generate point back to the concrete places and times in our shared historical archives and yet as composites flicker from somewhere on the border between the painterly and the real. Image AI visualizes machine learning that is upcycled to create new products and its own kind of alternate history—so far with varying degrees of success. What the future has in store remains to be seen. Just as Britney Spears sings in Overprotected, "I need to make mistakes, just to learn who I am."

Trash The Musical by Loretta Fahrenholz is the third and final exhibition to take place as part of the program series In Medias Res: Media, (Still) Moving. Comprising newly commissioned works, group and solo exhibitions, and a series of publications, In Medias Res: Media, (Still) Moving highlights the methods and processes of remembering and storytelling within moving images. The starting point for this investigation is provided by the historic, political, and discursive levels of the building where Fluentum now operates.

The exhibition series is curated by Dennis Brzek and Junia Thiede. An accompanying catalogue will be published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König in the summer of 2023, with contributions by Felix Bernstein and Magnus Schaefer.

Installation views © Stefan Korte.