Trophy Hunter

[Image: From Trophy Hunter by Bryan Christiansen, on display at the Nevada Museum of Art till May 9].

While out in Reno last month, in addition to our virtual spatial adventure relayed in the previous post, we stopped in for a few great shows at the Nevada Museum of Art.

The photos here are from Bryan Christiansen's Trophy Hunter, which is up through May 9, in case you can stop by. The basic idea here is great: Christiansen treats "discarded household furniture that he finds in neglected urban areas" as rare animals found on a hunt.

[Image: From Trophy Hunter by Bryan Christiansen at the Nevada Museum of Art].

He skins them, mounts their resulting pelts on the wall, and then digs through the cracks, stuffing, folds, and hollows to store whatever lost objects remain.

[Image: Trophy Hunter by Bryan Christiansen at the Nevada Museum of Art].

These gutted insides thus "stand in for the trophies, antler mounts, and pelts so often prized by hunters," the museum explains, Remote controls, stained upholstery, scattered coins, buttons, and much more are all displayed like preserved organs and prized cuts of meat, the trappings of a wild hunt as played out in the world of home furnishings.

[Images: From Trophy Hunter by Bryan Christiansen at the Nevada Museum of Art].

The furniture that is thus skinned and gutted is then reassembled into totemic animal forms, like some strange new shamanism of couches. These creatures now stand alert throughout the gallery space, their bodies ingenious reconfigurations of wooden legs, springs, and seat frames.

[Images: Trophy Hunter by Bryan Christiansen, on display at the Nevada Museum of Art].

There is something genuinely amazing, for me, in this almost animistic approach to the world of sofas, kitchen chairs, and love-seats; there is also an eye-opening candor in Christiansen's recognition that many of these furnishings were wearing animal skin in the first place: leather couches and den chairs and more all already surfaced in the flesh of living creatures. The hunt analogy is both artistically inspired and materially appropriate. Even the case of an artificial covering—such as polyester or vinyl—being hung up like the skin of a prized animal takes on a post-natural ring that leaves me stunned.

It's like a scene from John Carpenter's 1984 film Starman, where Jeff Bridges brings back to life a deer that was recently shot and killed by hunters: only, in this case, artist Bryan Christiansen walks into a room and the furniture around him comes creaking back to life, broken apart and shelved in pieces, but welcomed back to the realm of animal nature.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its not just these stuffed trophies that get thrown out into the dumpster, an artist called angela Singer rescues dumped old animal trophies and refurbishes or peels them back to make some freaky art works. This is her site www.angelasinger.com

April 04, 2010 3:29 AM  
Blogger Casey James said...

Looks good Bri Bri...It is amazing to think of how your environment molds what you make. in NYC you'd get bed bugs. sell them trophies!

May 11, 2010 11:44 PM  

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