From December 2017 to January 2018 London’s arebyte gallery presented fronterlebnis, an exhibition by Central’s Research Fellow Dr Dani Ploeger.
In 2017, Ploeger made several journeys across Europe to examine the co-existence of conventional weapons and digital culture in everyday life. fronterlebnis – the title refers to Ernst Jünger’s proto-fascist concept of the ‘front experience’ – brings together work in different media that emerged from an encounter with soldiers on the frontline in the Donbass War in Ukraine.
Over the past two years, Dani has engaged with the recent (re-)militarization of civilian spaces across Europe in the context of omnipresent digital culture. Heavily armed police officers and soldiers are conspicuously deployed on the streets of Western European metropoles, while a growing number of volunteer militias equipped with Soviet-era weapons are training for – and participating in – conventional war scenarios in Central Europe. Meanwhile, experiences of the public spaces in which these developments take place are highly determined by advanced (mobile) consumer technologies. Starting from his own ambiguous relationship to firearms, which is driven by a paradoxical combination of childhood fascinations and critical theory, Ploeger’s solo show frontlerlebnis examines the ways in which mobile phones, action cameras and other gadgets now co-exist with seemingly old-fashioned weapon technologies and their associated symbolic cults of masculinity, strength and heroism.
The four works of fronterlebnis process two journeys through Ukraine, during which Dani was embedded with soldiers on the frontline in the Donbass War, and explored shopping malls, weapon stores, monuments and flea markets.
arebyte Gallery is a London-based art organisation which supports the development of contemporary artists working across emerging artforms. Through its gallery space and affordable studio complex, arebyte creates thriving environments for artists to expand on their practices, explore collaborative working and meet new audiences.
fronterlebnis was supported by Central and Arts Council England.