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Zelle 5 – 800° Celsius: Act I, 2020

video installation

Zelle 5 – 800° Celsius: Act 1–2 is a multimedia installation and performance that stands at the center of Negotiating the Law, a solo presentation of German video artist and filmmaker Mario Pfeifer. Through the artistic reworking of forensic materials and investigative strategies related to the deeply troubling case of the death of Oury Jalloh, a Sierra Leonean asylum seeker in Germany, the work aims to spark discussion about the coexistence of visual evidences, racism and institutional violence, and the importance of civil activism. The artist has closely collaborated with activists from Break the Silence, an initiative in remembrance of Jalloh that continues the investigation into his 2005 case—which remains one of Germany’s largest police controversies in relation to accusations of institutional racism.

Act 1 is entirely dedicated to one object: an ordinary disposable lighter, which is the central piece of evidence in Jalloh’s case. It appeared three days after the crime scene was secured, with investigators claiming it had previously been overlooked. No DNA traces of Jalloh or materials secured in the cell were found on the claimed evidence.

The artist has also invited Break the Silence—In Remembrance of Oury Jalloh to present their activist work, which demands justice for Jalloh and the prosecution of those responsible for the events of January 7, 2005.

Mario Pfeifer, Zelle 5 – 800° Celsius: Act I, 2020, 4K-video-installation, 24 min, stereo, color, installation view at Edith-Russ-Haus, Oldenburg
Mario Pfeifer, Zelle 5 – 800° Celsius: Act I, 2020, 4K-video-installation, 24 min, stereo, color, filmstill

4K-video-installation, 24 min, stereo, color
installation view at Edith-Russ-Haus, Oldenburg

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Mario Pfeifer

Mario Pfeifer was born in 1981 in Dresden, Germany. His work explores representational structures and conventions in the medium of film, in locations ranging from Mumbai to California to the Western Sahara. Conceiving each project out of a specific cultural situation, he researches social-political backgrounds and weaves further cross-cultural art historical, filmic and political references into a richly layered practice, ranging from film and video installations to photographs and text installations. Often, Pfeifer collaborates on publications that reconsider these projects, offering research materials and critical investigations by writers and thinkers of related fields, concerning issues suggested in his projects for a wider social-political discussion. After his studies in Leipzig (HGB) and Berlin (UDK), Pfeifer graduates from Willem de Rooij's class at Städelschule Frankfurt in 2008. He is a Fulbright fellow in Los Angeles (California Institute of the Arts) in 2008/09. Further grants and projects lead him to Bangkok, Mumbai, Marrakesh, Beirut, Tierra del Fuego, Santiago de Chile, and New York. Mario participated in the 10th Berlin Biennale (2018), the 11th Bienal do Mercosul (2017), the 3° Montevideo Bienal (2016) as well as the 4th Marrakesh Biennal (2012). Survey exhibitions took place in 2016 at the GfZK Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig and in 2019 at The Power Plant Toronto. In 2019 IDFA commissioned the first performance work AGAIN – Live which premiered at Amsterdam's Pakhuis de Zwijger. Pfeifer lives in Berlin and Dresden.

Full Biography