Indepth Arts News: |
"Andreas Slominski: A Solo Exhibition"
2003-04-10 until 2003-06-13
On Thursday 10 April, the Fondazione Prada will inaugurate the first vast exhibition in Italy devoted entirely to the German artist Andreas Slominski (Meppen, Germany, 1959), in its space at Via Fogazzaro 36 in Milan. Some fifteen works executed expressly for the exhibition will be on display.
The definition critics most often use to describe Slominski is Fallensteller, which means ‘trapper’ in German: he is, in fact, a conceptual artist with an insidious, playful spirit. Slominski started his artistic career around the mid-1980s and identifies himself literally and figuratively with the setting of traps and devices for catching animals. This is what the artist has to say: ‘I just happened to be in front of a pet-shop, and I found something interesting from a sculptural point of view in the trap. This was the ‘formula’ for me: the things I’d already done and those I still had to do seemed to be unexpectedly intertwined [....]. The trap as an object [...] has a specific character that other sculptures do not have. For me, it’s not a game, it’s something serious: a metaphor or a model, something that one can perceive directly, but that occupies its own space when observed from a distance’.* The first trap (Falle), dating from 1984-85 and displayed at his first solo exhibition in Hamburg in 1987, consists of a normal device used for catching mice. It heralded the beginning of much ambiguity regarding the interpretation of an object that varies from Duchamp’s ready-made to the objet trouvé. While preserving its functionality, it acquires artistic value just because it has been exhibited: this is, in reality, a cat-and-mouse game, involving the artist and the public, in which the latter goes round in circles, trying to find the meaning of an object that is intentionally meaningless.
Traps are only one of the components of Slominski’s absurd, ironical universe. It also comprises bicycles (Tandem, 1994), large and small windmills (Mondscheinmühle, 1996), or everyday objects (Golfball, 1995; Gestohlene Luftpumpe 1998; Zollstock, 1999), often used for events and subsequently left theatrically on display as relics to contemplate, in an apparently chaotic nature which is, in reality, conceptually organised. For example, in the case of the work entitled Klavier (1998), a piano and a stool, which normally stand next to each other, are initially divided, because they are positioned in two non-communicating places, but are then reunited in the exhibition space thanks to the destruction of the wall that ‘metaphorically’ separated them: this is the outline of an action that is tortuous and, at the same time, brazenly superfluous and eccentric.
Slominski uses subtle skill in order to thwart the spectator’s expectations, which he seems to play with sometimes in a cruel and manipulative manner, at other times in an infantile, ironical way. Child-like and ingenious at the same time, like that typically nineteenth-century figure, the idiot savant, the artist has an amazing capacity to catch our attention, surprising and disturbing us. His is a scenario scattered with little traps and nonsense, where everyday things become complex, innocuous things become unexpectedly dangerous and vice versa, and the prey plays the predator’s game.
The artist held his first exhibition in 1987 in Hamburg, after attending the Hochschule für bildende Künste in that city from 1983-1986. Solo exhibitions of his work were subsequently held at the Museum Haus Esters, Krefeld, and the Kunstverein, Bremerhaven, in 1995; the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, in 1997; the Kunsthalle, Zurich, in 1998; and the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, in 1999. He has participated in international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennales of 1988 and 1997, the year in which he also took part in the "Skulptur Projekte" in Münster.
* Interview with A. Slominski, in BiNationale, exhibition catalogue, Kunsthalle, Kunstsammlung, Kunstverein, Düsseldorf, 1988; ICA, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1989.