55 1 3
Torsten Lauschman, ‘Polaroid No.20’, 2006

An understated, stylish mix of sculpture, video, drawing and photography united in eclecticism—the many facets of Torsten Lauschmann’s approach are evident in his latest solo show, where dialogues are established between a collection of aesthetically and conceptually different works.

An ironic and absurd curiosity sets the tone. The ethos of the ubiquitous ‘Self Portrait as a Pataphysical Object’, extends beyond the absurdity of the aptly titled sculpture—a chandelier of interconnected, multi-coloured audio leads and jacks that power one small bulb, its humour highlighting Lauschmann’s adaptability and tongue-in-cheek stance.

The sculptural video installation, ‘The Mathematician (Pál Erdös)’, is a portrait composed entirely of numerical figures, enunciating audio spliced from interviews with the eccentric mathematician. Reminiscent of cubist portraiture, a composition is projected onto a blackboard resting on an easel. It is easy to establish parallels between Lauschmann’s art and Erdös’ mathematical practices, and indeed between video and painting. Over nine minutes, Erdös relates various scenarios and anecdotes that illustrate his less than conventional approach to life.

Meanwhile, the two-minute video ‘Inference, Even’ loops with silent concentration. It’s a strangely beautiful scene—a contortionist writes while bending infinitely backwards, demonstrating how video without a linear narrative can become animated collage. The found footage has been mirrored at its edges to transform it from 4:3 to widescreen, then montaged with one of Lauschmann’s trademark geometric psychedelic shapes, twisting in one corner—defiantly confirming that collage is not confined to paper. Lauschmann’s neoteric technique pushes beyond the conventional monitor-and-plinth scenario, focusing not so much on the medium itself, but rather on the way it is suited to his found and appropriated subject. Forgotten or overlooked moments are reassessed; then represented in a very different context.

In the other room, Polaroid photographs selected from an ongoing series are framed and mounted on the gallery wall. These sentimental moments from the artist’s life do not perturb the other, less personal works in the exhibition, but only confirm Lauschmann’s sincerity, coupling nicely with the overhanging ‘self-portrait’. In contrast to these personal works, a stuffed peacock inconspicuously eats golden chips from a greasy wrapper on the gallery floor and makes an unavoidable social comment in a witty mix of irony and sarcasm. This reminds the viewer that the world outside the white cube still exists, although it may not be quite as we remember it.

Lauschmann examines these sometimes kitsch curios in a manner that avoids the common clichés associated with such subject matter. Instead, he illustrates a comfortingly tactile sense of history, that—along with its idiosyncrasies—is the most endearing quality of the exhibition. These works are varied in medium, but their differences are wholly considered and the composition of the show is one of its strongest points. Above all, it alludes to the persona of the artist, but unlike the peacock, he shows his colours modestly.

Steven Cairns is assistant editor of MAP