The first instinct when seeing or describing Tatiana Trouvé’s installation SOMEWHERE, 18-12-95, AN UNKNOWN 1981 is to catalogue the items that make up the work. A wall, graying mattresses, a chair, plastic bags, a pole.
This is almost a defense mechanism: as the only piece in the brightly lit room encircled by windows, it looks as though one has stumbled onto a scene not intended for the public. Or it looks like something so conceptually ambitious that the translation of meaning is not immediately clear. Most of the crowd at the opening stayed near the outward edges of the room, nervous to be the first one to say that they didn’t understand the piece. The description of the work — involving a vague narrative of a sentinel on duty — only served to confuse even more.
What is the easiest to understand is that the work is based on musings about space and domesticity. The Schinkel Pavillon is one of the most unique spaces to display work — the intense lighting, the high windows, and the second story view onto the street can all create different interpretations of a work just in the differing times of day. Trouvé also says that the ongoing construction outside of the building played into the piece’s inception. She has exhibited in France, Australia, England, and Japan — her observations and experiences are refracted in her art, resulting in a conglomeration of internal and external experiences, edited and layered.
Her editing in this instance includes the casting of the plastic bags in bronze, and creating the mattresses out of concrete — no easy feat, especially when one mattress is rolled up, depressed where the tying belt is, and another flops over the dividing wall, balanced evenly.
There is a sense of abandonment in the empty mattresses, and the scene seems to be a detailed story that perhaps the artist has lived or only knows herself. SOMEWHERE is a hard piece — but it’s unsettling in a memorable way. A mattress doesn’t get dirty by itself.
“SOMEWHERE, 18-12-95 AN UNKNOWN 1981” – TATIANA TROUVÉ
Exhibition: Jan. 18 – Mar. 09, 2014
Oberwallstrasse 1 (Click here for map)
Blog entry by AJ Kiyoizumi in Berlin; Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.