An Aesthetics of Disquiet Times

2020 | Sturm & Drang Publishers
Selected by the Financial Times in their best art books for autumn

Essay for Peter Hauser’s monography Angst


“Concrete and marble structures, the reflective walls of corporate power buildings, surveillance cameras standing idle over empty streets, warped staircases going nowhere. Peter Hauser’s Angst is filled with glossy and pristine surfaces, with impeccably composed and perfectly sharp photographs. They are highly seducing images, initially giving the reader an impression of innocuousness and triviality. Their beauty draws the viewer in. At first glance, the book feels as if it should be narrated in excruciating detail by Patrick Bateman, and like a world he would inhabit with ease. This would suffice to make it slightly threatening, possibly claustrophobic. A respite of sorts is provided by the interruption of its indifferent perfection by a series of crashes, micro disasters, and understated idyllic scenes. Cut down trees left in the woods, cars wrecked and long abandoned, or seemingly deserted construction sites, offer an unexpected counterpart. The book is built on a heightening tension between the aggressively flawless depictions of still environments and these minute catastrophes, which leaves us wondering about the mechanisms at play behind these quiet surfaces, about the calamity yet to come.”