• **Notes on Truppe Fledermaus: The Carnival at the End of the World


    Kahn & Selesnick’s latest project concerns a fictitious cabaret troupe, the Truppe Fledermaus, who travel the countryside staging absurd and inscrutable performances in the abandoned landscapes beyond the town’s edge. To create this ‘Theater of Memory’, the Truppe are as apt to commemorate the passing of an unusual cloud as they are to be found documenting their own attempts to flee the rising waters of a warming planet, or using black humor to comment upon the mass extinction of bats or other animals. The original Memory Theatre, as conceived by Giulio Camillo, reduces the audience of the drama to a single member, placing them on stage at the center of the proscenium arch, whereupon they gaze out into the amphitheater, using the performance taking place there as a mnemonic device to deconstruct the world around us.


    As well as using this concept to address ecological themes, Kahn & Selesnick also use it as a metaphor for the manner in which seemingly inexhaustible quantities of information are disseminated to us in the modern world. Apocalyptic weather is documented to the point of extinction; we are bombarded by endless images of our own virtual lives, constantly rebroadcasted to us over our various devices. The Artists present their own version of this pictorial feed in the form of ‘100 views of the Drowning World’, a play on Japanese Ukiyo-e print series in which the central concept, that of a floating world of pleasure and beauty is inverted to become one that is in fact sinking into the marsh, a place where there are no famous scenes or actors, and one viewpoint becomes interchangeable with any other. 

    So the Truppe travel on, performing for nobody, advertising their performances through posters and handbills, performances that never happened, an endless preview reel for a mock-life that never was, for a film that does not exist. Within this nonexistent documentary, the viewer might also find a fragmentary memoir of Kahn & Selesnick’s own relationship, as told through lightly veiled doppelgängers and situations (is our world inhabited by any creatures other than doppelgängers or avatars?), offering a rare glimpse of the collaborator’s working life, and quite frankly, their neuroses and sometime disfunctionality!

    All this is presented as an incomplete novel-in-progress, perhaps found in the attic of the Memory Theater itself (is the author deceased?) that may either be enjoyed for its lush surfaces and visual inventiveness, or delved into at length, quite possibly at the viewer’s peril.


    Explore more of Kahn/Selesnick's work here 


  • The Augury of the Cardinal Directions

    For this augury, a dramatic vantage point is needed, preferably one that fills the participants with strong emotions of awe and terror. Once such a place is located, the augur examines the horizon, and notates the feelings that each direction evokes. An example might be: N, departure; NNE, despair; ENE, hope; E, the unknowable; etc. The augur is then blindfolded, and has a long pole put through the sleeves of their jacket until arms stick straight out in opposite directions, like a scarecrow. The augur then spins in a circle until they are dizzy to the point of collapse. The blindfold is then removed; the direction in which the left arm points represents the qualities of the past, the right arm the qualities of the future


    The Augury of Blows

    A nervous looking individual, perhaps someone who looks like they have something to hide, is located and coerced into participation. The augur whacks the victim with a stick until they reveal the times and places of future events. it is recommended that the victim wear a padded suit to avoid permanent injury. note: this form of augury is known to be almost completely unreliable.


    Sea Augury

    The augur stands before the ocean and asks ‘what is coming’, to which the ocean inevitably replies ‘I am, over churches, hovels, the village green, fields, skyscrapers, palaces, until all but the highest peaks are covered.’ In no case has the ocean been known to give an alternative answer, so the augur must decide for themselves whether this form of prognostication has any value.




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  • Based in New York, artists Richard Selesnick and Nicholas Kahn have been collaborating as Kahn/Selesnick since 1988. The artists have exhibited extensively worldwide and have work in over 20 museum collections including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Simthsonian Institution.  

    Dreaming up imaginary worlds, their work focuses on conjouring up fictitious histories in the form of complex narrative photo-novellas and sculptural installations. Projects to date include the fictitious documentation of an inhabited iceberg  as well as a photo series of a society on Mars. 

    Their newest alternative universe ‘Truppe Fledermaus: The Carnival at the End of the World’'** is inspired by the Italian philosopher Giulo Camillo’s 1550 work, “Memory Theater,” which deals with disengagement and cultural overload. Hibernia,  presents a further chapter in the Truppe Fledermaus story. Here we find ourselves following the two main characters, Dr Falke and Lulu. Usually known for their absurdist performances in nature, here in Hibernia they are exploring the realms of augury, spells and sacred magic, where the landscape of Ireland*, dreamy and apocalyptic, reveals clues to the itinerant troupe of healers, performers, and charlatans. 

    The winds are changing, the cabarets of Weimar are spreading the resistance to hill forts and bogs, and yet Hibernia holds onto its secrets.

    *This chapter was shot exclusively on location in Ireland beginning in residence at Baby Forest HQ, West Cork

    ** Scroll right to the end of the exhibition for a more detailed backdrop on the Truppe Fledermaus story >>>>>

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