Albert Mayr

Äther Exercise
31.01. – 09.04.2020

Albert Mayr, Äther Exercise, exhibition view, 2020, Photo: Tamara Lorenz
Albert Mayr, Äther Exercise, exhibition view, 2020, Photo: Tamara Lorenz
Albert Mayr, Äther Exercise, exhibition view, 2020, Photo: Tamara Lorenz
Albert Mayr, Äther Exercise, exhibition view, 2020, Photo: Tamara Lorenz
Albert Mayr, Äther Exercise, exhibition view, 2020, Photo: Tamara Lorenz

hi – my name is – Albert Mayr!

“[…] my name is Slim Shady” blasts into my ears while a phone call comes in. I am sitting on the top level of the regional express train from somewhere to Cologne. It is only four in the afternoon but outside the world is pitch black and heavy raindrops hit the window. I pick up the call – the song stops abruptly. It is Petra Martinetz, a Galerist from Cologne, and she offers me to write on Albert Mayr, one of the artists she works with since she started her gallery. Happily I accept, after all I have seen one of his previous shows and enjoyed the chaos, but I know only little about the work itself. A few days later I get my first batch of material from the gallery. Intense stuff. Everything feels driven by a need for sound, an unreadable message. Sometime later Mayr and I are set for a phone call, to discuss his ideas for “Äther Exercise”.

German winter is in full effect: grey, rainy and unpleasant, without the actual cold, which is still to arrive. Everything feels muddy, and in this mood Mayr’s call comes in. Unable to pick up, I inform him that I am currently at the gym, trying to work out a bit. He replies with an instruction: I should start listening to my surroundings, to the machines. I put my phone aside and continue with my exercise pulling down the handle behind my head and all of my attention shifts. Shifted away from the 80s rock blasting from the speakers towards the swoosh sound of the cord, to the clank of the metal when the weights accidentally touch, to the voiceless numbers counting in my head, slowly expanding to the rhythm of the gym. It is a tumultuous rhythm, but it is one after all. I am hooked, I want to know more about Mayr’s approach towards sound, and how the experience inflicted by the artist on me earlier that day might be part of his work, if there is a connection?

Mayr is a wizard when it comes to combining movement, sound and atmosphere. Video, sound and object can be so entwined that it gets very immersive by shifting our attention towards details, which we might have missed otherwise. His doctrine of movement and composition can be found in many previous pieces as well as in this exhibition “Äther Exercise”. Simple changes are part of the effortless transmutation of objects with which Mayr pushes the perception of his chosen materials; they move from being objects into spacial and sound aware pieces that form an alliance of function and dysfunction.

The artist sensibility towards the sound of everyday objects and their endless possibility of combination make for a great archive or repertoire that he is capable of using. This could end in a disturbing chaos – a cacophony visually and aurally – but it never does. Mayr pushes the envelope (and boundaries) but strives for the expansion of a sculptural experience, just like a prosthetic is just an object, but ones it gets animated through a body it becomes an extension of the latter. We are pushed into his world of movement and sound, but it can only exist with us inside. It does not matter where they are from, but what they create when they come together. His installations ask us to listen carefully, to dive into our surroundings and absorb them.

Patrick C. Haas