Mario Pfeifer addresses socially relevant issues, but the kind that are seldom discussed in public. In his video installations he combines documentary footage with interviews and staged scenes. His latest video installation, Black/White/Grey (2020) is based on research into hacking in the energy sector. The protagonists with whom Pfeifer engages are forensic computer analysts, staff at energy corporations, and hackers. The video covers global scenarios involving cybercrime. The title references three terms relating to hacker ethics – whereas a “Black Hat hacker” uses his skills for personal gain and to the detriment of the common good, and a “White Hat hacker” stands for the opposite, a “Grey Hat hacker” moves in the grey area between the two. What Pfeifer is interested in are the fundamental ethical issues associated with hacking in cyberspace. As a prologue to Black/White/Grey, in the video installation Malware-ABC he describes what is currently the most prevalent malware tool and the most important specialist terms.
In his two-channel video installation Again / Noch einmal (2018) Pfeifer deals with a real case involving civic courage, vigilantism and xenophobia. The work is based on the tragic story of Shabas Al-Aziz who, after a dispute with a supermarket cashier in Arnsdorf, Saxony, was forcibly tied to a tree by four men. The trial date was set for April 2017 but Al-Aziz, who was due to testify as a witness, was discovered frozen to death shortly beforehand and the case was closed without further ado. In his video installation, Pfeifer reopens the case, reconstructs the scenes using actors, shows documentary footage such as a video taken with a mobile from the original scene in the supermarket and the press reporting. Finally, people with experience of migration describe their view of the case. Pfeifer’s multi-perspective approach shows the complexity of the proceedings and, amongst other things, touches upon the question of to what extent economies of attention can play a part in influencing legal decisions.
The video installation Black/White/Grey was produced as part of a VISIT Artist in Residence grant from the innogy Foundation.