The artist continues his formal searches, begun in the student exhibition “Tales of Order” (Rodchenko Art School, April 2017), which resulted from his studies at the video art department in the course under Dmitry Venkov and Kirill Preobrazhensky. In his graphic works, artist uses references to the aesthetics of comic books, manga, Asian calligraphy, and snickerhead culture, collector culture, the world of franchised fantasy movies. Drawings, collages, and sketches, often similar to storyboards for a film, are exhibited in various forms and variations: as brochures in stitched folders, textures on cardboard boxes collected by the artist, as well as inserts, — that amount to an original combination of drawing and sculpture.

The artist refers to aesthetics of the marketplace by using commercial plastic and cardboard packaging materials, including toys and furniture, to cover with it his drawings and sketches. The drawings of the artist with original subframessarcophagi take the form of “shelf sculptures and arrangements,” inheriting experiments with this medium from both the 1980s neogeo (first of all, Haim Steinbach) and contemporary commentators on commercial aesthetics and commodity overproduction (Josephine Meckseper, Camille Henrot, IDEM). The artist frees from a purely utilitarian role items from the domestic and pragmatic world of construction and repairments—shelves, mounts, and plastic wrapping film—through its re-exposure: in a game with materials, Trautwein partially scans “real” surfaces of wooden and plastic objects and includes them in textured photo prints for cardboard boxes.

The title of the exhibition, “Tales of Order Vol. 2: The Wayward Chronicles,” is based on a contradictory notion of cataloging and systematization of something fantastic and fictional. This is reflected throughout the practice of Trautwein in the various ways he overlays DIY aesthetics, infantile sketches derived from comics and cartoons, upon an orderly installation structure. In the first exhibition of the series “Tales of Order” the shelves were arranged in analogy with a typical library or a store stand. In ISSMAG, the artist plays with the exhibition space of the gallery, as well as the size and position of the shelves and cardboard boxes that are excessively elongated or exaggerated. This creates the effect of unexpected fantastic mutations of everyday objects. Interacting with the interior of the gallery, his sculptures recall natural environment, mimic various textures, transfer surfaces from the exhibition space to printed cardboard, adapt to the corners, stretch and adapt to the specifics of the walls, thus generating an ironic effect.

The mise-en-scene of the exhibition is organized as a showwindow demonstrating props for an epic fantasy film that has been filmed or not yet filmed, which unfortunately the viewer is deprived of the opportunity to watch. She or he can get the impression of it only by observing scraps of storyboards, script, sketches, and sculptures.

The rapidly growing popularity of the genre of unboxing, manifest in numerous videos of unpacking a new product, usually of consumer electronics or digital technology, has in recent years passed from the life of geeks with their interest in computer games, technical innovations, and fan tokens, into new segments: food and beverages, clothes and shoes, mobile devices and other gadgets. Perhaps, packing his drawings into boxes, Trautwein offers a new genre of unboxing: unpacking the dimensions of the infantile and fantastic, where maniacal pursuits and daydreaming are released.

On the second floor of the gallery, the video “NATT” (19 min, 2016, Berlin/Leipzig) will be shown. This is Trautwein’s first movie, which can be seen as a transition from painting and graphics to working on feature film. A short film revolving around a kafkaesque plot: a young woman has to learn three signs for her new office job. Neither the type of work everyone is doing nor any person’s names are specified. Gradually, the signs she learned start to disfunction, although everyone around her carries on as usual. Aside from telling this story, a certain fusion of media was of interest. Drawing served as a base for the script as well as an actual prop: the documents the protagonist is skimming through are pencil-onpaper works from the artist’s sketchbook.

Curated by Alexander Burenkov.

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Tales of Order Vol. 2: The Wayward Chronicles
by Arnold Trautwein

at ISSMAG gallery, Moscow
Curated by Alexander Burenkov
July 12 – 25

ISSMAG