If you end up with the story you started with, then you’re not listening along the way
Mario Pfeifer works primarily in video, making multi-screen installations that centre on narratives often forced out of our frames of vision. His practice considers the parameters of image-making as a perceptual tool, and reveals a profound commitment to the stories of individuals and communities. This photograph was taken during the filming of Pfeifer’s three-channel video installation Approximation in the digital age to a humanity condemned to disappear (2014), for which the artist spent four months with the Yaghan community in Tierra del Fuego/Isla Navarino at the southern tip of Chile. Immersing himself in the contexts in which he works, Pfeifer considers his role as an intermediary to unearth stories and bring them to broader attention. In each of his projects he resists simplification, presenting scenarios in all their complexity and contradiction. Here, he presents a community nearing extinction as a direct result of the military, settlers, anthropologists, tourists, biologists, and the demands of global capitalism.
Pfeifer’s image depicts a scene of seemingly untouched beauty in the Tierra del Fuego landscape. The artist’s overlaid text—which echoes the image’s title—serves to indicate his open-ended approach, expressing a resistance to preconceived conclusions. In the context of a billboard, presented at the shore of Lake Ontario, a mirroring of the environment occurs, evoking questions about our own landscape. In the context of contemporary issues related to Indigenous claims of rights, land, and territory, Pfeifer’s image contributes to an important cultural conversation.
This billboard by Pfeifer, who lives and works in Berlin, is presented alongside the artist’s first solo exhibition in Canada, on view from June 22 to September 2, 2019.
Co-presented with The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery and supported by the Goethe Institut, Toronto