Lars Eidinger – AUTISTIC DISCO

Review by Gerhard Clausing

An actor who challenges various norms in his performances can be expected to do the same when using photography as another outlet for his creative abundance. That’s a perfect description of Lars Eidinger – he is not afraid to devote his skills to creating characters who show us the darker side of ourselves and often manages to integrate popular culture in his portrayals of well-known roles on stage and screen. Here he has produced a photographic project that highlights unnoticed and neglected moments from what accompanies us in our daily life. What will the future think of the bits and pieces shown here?

The title of the book itself presents us with an anomaly, a puzzle to unravel. Applying the strike-through technique to a rough-looking calligraphic type, the resulting title AUTISTIC DISCO, as shown on the cover and elsewhere, seems to cast doubt on its own full presence; we might be perceiving something that might be in the process of disappearing – something that in the future might be seen as puzzling remainders of culturally marginal past juxtapositions. “Autistic” here seems to be hinting at self-centered preoccupation rather than at the disability proper. “Disco” might be referring to the blending of astutely observed marginalia which Eidinger flashes in front of us, just like some styles of music that might be confrontational and make you think or stir up some emotions. The title design and the page numbers also express a certain improvisational mood.

When all is said and done, it is the odd moments of our lives that we might remember most and that will give future generations the puzzling assignment to make some sense of it all. What distinguishes Eidinger’s work is his uncanny ability to show us skewed moments from all over the world to demonstrate the same ubiquitous samenesss of ordinary peculiarities.

We see cast-away objects that seem to have lost their meaning, people unguarded and sequestered, structures and patterns that show kinks in their appearance, and other select oddities in style and form that seem garishly out of place or else seriously encroached-upon. Eidinger shows us extraordinary ordinary moments – his project makes us look at ourselves and our accoutrements in new ways.

In his essay “Sadness encapsulated in a cosmos of silent signs,” Simon Strauß aptly refers to Eidinger’s project constituting “symbolic images of an era of exhaustion.” There is a feeling of isolation, perhaps longing for a restoration of what might have been more together once upon a time. Is there a sense of doom, of impending disaster? Only you, the viewer, can decide. Lars Eidinger’s observations will get to you if you let them, and I highly recommend this book as an exploratory adventure of social and psychological self-examination, and as an example of more meaningful photography with a nod to social and historical relevance.

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Gerhard Clausing, PBJ Associate Editor, is a photographer and author from Southern California.

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Lars Eidinger – AUTISTIC DISCO

Photographer:  Lars Eidinger (born in Berlin and ­­­lives in Berlin-Charlottenburg, Germany)

Publisher:  Hatje Cantz, Berlin, Germany; © 2020

Essay:  Simon Strauß

Languages:  German and English

Hardback, cloth-covered, sewn; 128 pages, paginated, with 104 color images and a collage of 112 hotel rooms; index of locations; 17.5 x 24.5 cm / 7 x 9.75 inches; printed and bound in Latvia by Livonia Print, Riga. ISBN 978-3-7757-4781-3

Photobook Designer:  Karsten Heller, DiG Studio

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Articles and photographs published in the PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s).

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