Germany : Andreas Slominski
Though Andreas Slominski is known in Europe for actions, performances and video as well as the construction of objects, for the past decade and a half he has made traps his primary focus. Three-dimensional devices and entrapments of various kinds, remarkably inventive, they are oddly simple, most of them, whimsical, elegant, sometimes delicate and ingenious, or then dangerous, even deadly, possibly malice-filled. They are traps that would work, but they are made as sculptures, not useful machines. They seem in some cases proposals that in an exhibition setting, are both unsettling and exciting.
These works, clearly titled for action (Rat Trap, Trap for Birds of Prey, Red Deer Trap), have a satisfying functional quality - simple forms and materials working effectively together. Unlike "regular" sculptures, which might refer to art history, to formal decisions or intellectual links relative to an art discourse, these make their possible use value clear. Nevertheless the pieces are mysterious. They imply a mixed background and multiple roles.
As Patrick Frey notes, Slominski's
"very first art-traps from 1984/5 were indeed objets trouvés, but even these he did not find as used traps in the cellar or in the woods, auratically charged with the drama of reality, redolent of desperate struggles to escape, with 'natural' Beuysian traces and signs, with blood, fur, feathers and the like: on the contrary he bought them brand-new off the shelf at the hardware store. [As art they have undergone a] radical intensification of their functionality, and part of this, in some senses existential, functionality of the trap-objects derives from their very specific artifice focusing entirely on deception. This is what lends Slominski's concept its virtuosity and explosive energy. [. . .]
Even if, in our anthropocentric arrogance, we are still convinced in our hearts that animals have no awareness of their own death and can thus also have no awareness of art, when we observe Andreas Slominski's traps - reconstructed and functioning for the sake of art - one thing is revealed to us: Everything artistic about these things originally had nothing to do with us. Everything that matters about the traps is made for the intended prey, from the overall concepts down to each last detail. Any other features of their construction are secondary. [. . .] The really strange, peculiar thing about them is their ever taut, perilously enticing beauty which does not really seem to be geared towards our synaesthetic sensibilities but towards the sensory capacities of rats, grouse, or orange slugs (and how to outwit these).
Basically it is as though we were faced with ritual objects, devices and installations belonging to a tribe whose rituals and whose entire sensory and belief systems - in fact practically everything - were foreign and unknown to us, everything, that is, that went beyond morphology, anatomy, and some aspects of behavior. [. . .]
The beauty lurking in the pure functionality of Slominski's traps only becomes fully evident as the viewer recognizes the complexity of the way in which pure functionalism truly determines the form and is significant as such. And because the ways of this complexity seem to us so strange and mysterious, the work takes on a genuine art brut quality, something basic yet not naive, self-aware and right at the center of contemporary art." (Patrick Frey, " Mouse Domes at the Periphery of Peopledom ", Parkett 55, 1999, p. 89-91.)
The sculptures of Andreas Slominski are satisfying and elegant, yet filled with latent danger and drama. More is asked of us than is customary, and more is offered. There is nothing simple here.