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Issue 230

Delia Gonzalez’s Tribute to the Small Screen

Inspired by a cult Sci-Fi TV show, the artist’s first exhibition at Hot Wheels, Athens, warps the simulated/real dialectic

BY Gabriella Pounds in EU Reviews , Exhibition Reviews | 17 AUG 22

Referencing German film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, musician and artist Delia Gonzalez’s first solo show at Hot Wheels, ‘Fassbinder has wings, Fassbinder can fly’ incorporates works of music, painting, drawing and sculpture to ambitiously question the nature of our lived ‘reality’. The results fall somewhere between a historical re-enactment of Fassbinder’s science-fiction television show World on a Wire (1973) and a wikiHow on postmodernism.

Delia Gonzalez, New Age of Earth I/II, 2022, MDF wood, formica, mirror 275 × 262 × 128 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Hot Wheels, Athens

A toxic and beautiful odyssey, Fassbinder’s two-part series is set in a future Europe where an artificial intelligence agency reproduces ‘reality’. Humans reappear as non-player characters in a video game, unaware of their corporate-controlled phantasm. Dispersed throughout the gallery are large-scale sculptures that see Gonzalez re-create Fassbinder’s trickster affect. In concert with the television show’s use of mirrors, for example, New Age of Earth I/II (all works 2022) – a pair of angular sculptures on stepped daises – feature reflective surfaces that similarly encourage metaphysical contemplation. Lily-white, striped with peach plastic and modelled on columns supporting the Athens Polytechnic – visible between spears of blue sky from the gallery windows – the works echo Fassbinder’s engagement with Ancient Greece in World on a Wire, from its Platonic references to the mythological sculptures recurring throughout the set design.

Delia Gonzalez, ‘Fassbinder has wings, Fassbinder can fly’, 2022, Hot Wheels, Athens. Courtesy: the artist and Hot Wheels, Athens

The gallery’s existing architecture – which includes mirrored walls, a twisting staircase and multiple rooms – complements the labyrinthine allure of the assembled works. In the back room, the raven-coloured sculpture Veiled Visions emits blades of red light. Its shape resembles a vanity unit that could belong to one of Fassbinder’s doomerette characters. Emanating from speakers arranged throughout the gallery, Gonzalez’s music, titled The Stone Door, comprises classical, soft shards of piano that intensify the exhibition’s neurotic and glamorous air. Philip Glass’s score for Paul Schrader’s Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985) worms to mind.

Delia Gonzalez, ‘Fassbinder has wings, Fassbinder can fly’, 2022, Hot Wheels, Athens. Courtesy: the artist and Hot Wheels, Athens

Fluorescent yellow, apricot acrylics and a whisker of gold leaf comprise Pentimento. The artist has worked pencil gruffly into silver spokes that eternally return across the canvas, creating a surface texture that resembles a mermaid’s tail, while its circular shape is informed by her visualizations of musical notes. Conceptually, however, it is unclear how this elegant work relates to the rest of the show. In Simulacron and Replicas, meanwhile, brick-hued pencil and goldpoint mirror the appearance and texture of cherrywood. Warping the simulated/real dialectic, Gonzalez, like Fassbinder, makes philosophizing fun.

Delia Gonzalez, Pentimento, 2022, graphite on paper, acrylic paint, watercolour pencil, gold

leaf, 130 × 106 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Hot Wheels, Athens

Gonzalez’s verity play seems to return the unreliability of socio-political narratives – the recent proliferation of conspiracy theories, for instance – in the social-media era. Yet, given the potentially nuanced metaphysical jests latent in social-media-as-form – augmented reality, digital LARPing, the app ‘BeReal’ – and the postmodernist taste for mass culture, the absence of any digital work in this show feels like an oversight. Artists should also be looking to critically engage our online panopticon. Instead, ‘Fassbinder has wings, Fassbinder can fly’ appears to replay this singular moment in television history as a trailer for the future.

Delia Gonzalezs Fassbinder has wings, Fassbinder can fly is on view by appointment at Hot Wheels, Athens, until 31 August 2022.

Main image: Delia Gonzalez, Pentimento (detail), 2022, Graphite on paper, acrylic paint, watercolour pencil, gold leaf, 130 ×106 cm. Courtey: the artist and Hot Wheels, Athens

Gabriella Pounds is a writer and editor based in London, UK.