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‘Truppe Fledermaus’ opens on Sept. 6 at Marion Art Gallery
Monday, August 22, 2016

‘Truppe Fledermaus’ opens on Sept. 6 at Marion Art Gallery

“Truppe Fledermaus and the Carnival at the and of the World,” includes "Poster Walls."

The artwork of the internationally renowned collaborative duo Kahn and Selesnick will be on display in the Cathy and Jesse Marion Art Gallery starting in September. “Truppe Fledermaus and the Carnival at the End of the World” features the work of Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick.

 
       "Baba Yaga's House"

The exhibition opens to the public on Tuesday, Sept. 6 and a public reception is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 9 from 7 to 9 p.m.

The artists will be on campus for a weeklong residency from Sept. 12 to 16. A lecture by Kahn and Selesnick is scheduled for Thurs., Sept. 15 at 8:30 p.m. at McEwen Hall Room 209.

The artists will also discuss their commercial work, such as music videos and fashion shoots, at the Fredonia Technology Incubator’s Art and Business Luncheon at noon on Friday, Sept. 16. The incubator is located at 214 Central Ave. in Dunkirk.

The exhibition, reception and lectures are free and open to the public. Seating is limited for the Art and Business Luncheon presentation. Reservations are required and may be made by calling (716) 680-6009. The Cathy and Jesse Marion Art Gallery is located on the first floor of Rockefeller Arts Center on the Fredonia campus.

The exhibition includes 75 arched-top, black and white and color photographs dating from 2012 to 2015 and three large format photographs from “Dreams of a Drowning World.” A wall of posters, both drawings and prints, advertises the fictitious troupe.

The exhibition will also feature Kahn and Selesnick’s latest book projects. A book mockup and page layouts give visitors an opportunity to consider the process of designing and publishing art books. An exhibition catalog with entries by the Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts Ralph Blasting, Marion Art Gallery Director Barbara Räcker and artist/writer Sarah Flakner is available free of charge by visiting or contacting the gallery.

Kahn and Selesnick’s photographs tell layered stories that are sometimes humorous, occasionally disturbing and often apocalyptic. “Truppe Fledermaus” is a visual narrative about a troupe of actors who roam the countryside dressed as bats, death dancers, and "greenmen.”

They perform tales of environmental devastation and warnings of a rising tide only for the animals. Wearing death masks and top hats, the actors pull striped carnival carts filled with death masks, blank mannequin heads, and ceramic monster heads. They perform puppet shows and concerts for ghosts using crystal glasses. They levitate upside down, ride crude unicycles, and perform puppet shows.

Kahn and Selesnick mix characters, time periods and genres in their parables and parodies to create ambiguity and allow for suspension of disbelief. When not in bat, weed or death dancer costumes, the actors wear Victorian clothing.

The backdrop of “Truppe Fledermaus” is often the endangered wetlands of Cape Cod, although it could be any number of places around the world. The disappearance of entire species of bats from a mysterious white nose syndrome, and climate change, evidenced by rising sea levels and intense storms (Hurricane Katrina, tsunami in Japan), are among recent events that the artists allude to, if not directly reference, in the series.

In “Dreams of a Drowning World,” the epilogue to “Truppe Fledermaus,” the troupe of actors seemingly lie in repose; they are floating in water surrounded by flora, fauna, and fragments of humankind (musical instruments, books, toys, a typewriter, plates of food, masks, mirrors, and wooden trunks.)

The large cinematic photographs teem with flowers, fruits, colors, textures, and symbols representing both despair and optimism for the future.

Kahn and Selesnick have been working together since the early 1980s after they met while attending art school at Washington University in St. Louis. The artists were both born in 1964, in New York City and London respectively. They work primarily in the fields of photography and installation art, specializing in fictitious histories set in the past or future. Kahn and Selesnick have participated in over one hundred solo and group exhibitions worldwide and have work in over twenty public collections, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Houston Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Smithsonian Institution. In addition, they have published three books with Aperture Press — Scotlandfuturebog, City of Salt, and Apollo Prophecies.

“Truppe Fledermaus” is on display through Nov.18. The exhibition and related programs are supported by the Fredonia College Foundation’s Cathy and Jesse Marion Endowment Fund, the Carl J. Nordell Art Gallery Endowment and the Friends of Rockefeller Arts Center.

Gallery hours are: Tuesday through Thursday noon to 4 p m., Friday and Saturday noon to 6 p.m., and Sunday noon to 4 .pm. The gallery will be open noon to 8 p.m. on Alumni Weekend (Oct. 21 and 22.) The gallery is closed on Mondays.

For more information, to schedule a group tour of the exhibition, or to request a free exhibition catalog, contact Ms. Räcker at (716) 673-4897 or barbara.racker@fredonia.edu.

 
 

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