December 2, 2014
Tatiana Trouvé’s fountain Waterfall (2013) opens December 2 in "Fieldwork," Art Basel Miami Beach's outdoor exhibition of sculpture and performance curated by Nicholas Baume and in collaboration with the Bass Museum of Art. The exhibition is on view in Collins Park through March 29, 2015. Gagosian's Kara Vander Weg discusses Trouvé’s first public installation in the U.S.
A flaccid mattress drapes over a standing slab; drips of water slowly roll from its surface to the ground. Tatiana Trouvé’s outdoor fountain, Waterfall (2013), could be mistaken for refuse abandoned on a ruin. Trouvé's sculptures are masterfully puzzling juxtapositions that leave viewers to draw their own, sometimes conflicting, conclusions about the underlying narrative. In Waterfall, the cast bronze mattress and the concrete wall over which it is positioned are at once vaguely troubling and strangely beguiling—an anti-monument to a dystopic contemporary world.
Uncanniness and unease are the essences of Trouvé’s art. The language of her sculptures and drawings derives from everyday elements and objects found in or around the home, but perversely transposed to divorce them from their former usefulness and emphasize their new role as solely aesthetic. In previous installations, Trouvé has rolled mattresses, cast them in solid concrete and bound them with leather straps, which turn out to be cast metal. She has noted her transformation of these objects, saying “if I place it as is in a room, it evokes sleep, softness, etc., but if I wrap it and then remake it in cement, it becomes sculpture. Now it may call to mind Pompeii, speaking of a fossilized story—a kind of petrified, congealed narrative.”
Waterfall makes oblique reference to other histories: the patinated bronze recalls the memorial statues of war heroes in every small town square in Europe and the United States. But rather than recalling larger-than-life tales of heroism or victory, the dejected mattress remembers nothing or no one. Situated among the throngs of Miami Beach tourists as well as the immigrant hotel and restaurant workers who serve them, it may underscore the transient nature of the place where the idea of “home” has many connotations.
Waterfall was originally conceived for a 2013 exhibition of outdoor sculpture in Munich, Germany. It is Trouvé’s first work to be shown outdoors in a public context in the U.S. Past installations have included small rooms, called “Polders”, in which everyday objects and abstract elements are configured in a marginally smaller-than-life scale, to particularly destabilizing effect. In those instances, the viewer may have the disturbing feeling of being trapped in someone else’s dream, as the Polders have a familiar but ultimately unknowable quality.
When Trouvé’s work is located in a bustling urban environment, its unsettling, melancholic sensation persists and heightens. Incidental passersby are implicated, as well as surrounding architecture, nature, and even detritus. Where does the artistic world of the fountain end and reality begin? The border is constantly shifting and this is what makes Waterfall quietly impactful.
Waterfall (2013) is on view at Collins Park in partnership with the Bass Museum in Miami Beach, Florida through March 29, 2015.