Article published in Sculpture Magazine, February 2010
Migros Museum, Zurich
Walking into Tatiana Trouve’s new exhibition – featuring wall drawings and installations – is like entering a parallel world: absurd, dream-like, puzzling, and haunting. The first installation that confronts us, 350 points towards infinity, is composed of hundreds of metallic pendulums hanging from the ceiling to about 3 inches from the floor. They all shoot out at different angles, as if frozen in time and space, creating an eerie sensation of arrested transition. This elegant installation encompasses most of Trouve’s preoccupations: magic and illusion, dreams and memory, architectural intervention, psychological investigation, and the interplay of inner and outer spaces.
Trouve started her career in the mid-90s, when just recently out of art school, she embarked on a campaign of getting in touch with galleries to show her work, and employers to hire her. Out of this mostly unsuccessful effort came her ongoing project, BAI (Bureau d’activites implicites), a modular installation that archives the processes of her development as an artist, and those of the works that she makes. Trouve arranges correspondence and objects in various configurations and contexts for each new installation of BAI. As she evolves and time passes, the BAI reflects this through its own physical layout and the objects exhibited within. And through this continued psychological exploration, the exhibition of inner realms in an uncanny context, and the play with architectural space, Tatiana Trouve has created a unique modus operandi that is evident in her current work.
But the exhibition in Zurich also expands on these themes with several disturbing interventions in the museum architecture itself that bring to mind the dream world of Alice in Wonderland. Miniature entrances force the viewers to squat to enter mysterious spaces decorated with seemingly arbitrary objects, like in Inchoativity, where a series of cylinders that look like radiators connected to long, thin vertical and horizontal pipes, link to each other with no practical purpose. A folded mattress made of cement and tied to a pillar by a belt is suspended above ground. All these objects and spaces seem de-contextualized and sterile, but there is evidence of the human touch in each one: in Inchoativity, the first thing we encounter is a pair of black boots in a corner, and drip buckets under the levers that would normally be used to adjust the heat level of the radiators. In another installation, The Antechamber, one finds the remnants of a spill that bridges the space of the installation and the hallway: Art spilling into life, dream into reality. Spill elements are repeated within the installation space on the walls, among the absurd mechanical combinations that hang and hover from above in meaningless perfection.
One of the most engrossing pieces in the show, From Here I Disappear, is composed of a long tunnel cut into the wall, interspersed with small translucent Plexiglas doors opened and closed at different angles, reflecting into and off each other, giving the uneasy feeling of peering into infinity. To see the details of the structure, one must bend over in an uncomfortable position and peer through a mysteriously locked door that offers no answers, but elicits only questions. It temps you to enter, and rejects you when you try.
The second part of the exhibition features charcoal drawings on the walls, and copper lines inserted into the wall and cement floor. In these pieces Trouve plays with the viewer, initially creating the impression of traditional perspective exercises, but on closer inspection they turn out to be only illusions resulting from manipulated space and context. In one of the four wall pieces called Envelopments, Trouve repeats the radiator motif and inserts it a dream-scape of barren architecture and life elements, including a seemingly deserted apartment complex, a fan, and a tree. From this space copper lines emanate down the wall, and continue into the floor, again bridging the dream space (art piece) with reality (the space on which the audience walks). Although 2-dimensional, the drawings become unusually sculptural as these copper lines come down the wall and dig into the cement floor, creating a sculptural drawing and a drawn sculpture.
The entire exhibit by Tatiana Trouve takes you on a trip down the rabbit hole, and brings you into a world where nothing is as it seems. It is the place in our subconscious where memories, images, and thoughts blend to create those little fragments of truth that we can never decipher. Trouve’s exhibition is an ambitious and highly poetic journey, extremely well produced yet fragile and subtle.