The main gallery of Susanne Kutter’s wistfully titled exhibition, “How about if I sleep a little bit longer…”—a quote from Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis—was dominated by Trilogy of Illusion, a 15-inch-tall, five- room doll-size house cobbled together from cardboard boxes. Installed on a tall base, it provided a point of departure for the other works in the show (all 2010). The rooms of the house appear emptied of most of their furnishings; wallpaper is peeling off the walls and strewn across the floor; a lone chandelier glows in the spare surroundings. The rooms are uninhabited, apart from the disquieting presence of a spider under a furl of wallpaper in the living room, a fly on the bathroom wall, a butterfly in the bedroom and a cockroach in the kitchen. While the bugs are life-size replicas, in this setting they loom large, perhaps as they would appear in a nightmare or as Kafka’s story suggests. This effect is heightened in four small lightbox images showing views of the rooms, which appear quite realistic divorced from the rickety cardboard exterior.
Projected onto a wall in a smaller gallery was the 18-minute video Trilogy of Illusion. The Mask. The Deception. The Trap (2010). The looping video consists of three separate sequences shot in different rooms of the model house using live insects corresponding to those in the model. From the wall of the living room, the butterfly flutters to the chandelier and clings to it upside-down; the cockroach scales the kitchen wall; the fly makes its way from the bathroom to the bedroom, where it is greeted and eventually devoured by the hungry spider. Here, the surreal scale heightens the intensity of the action, turning a bug fight into a clash of titans.
Hanging in the hallway of Rasche Ripken were four small round mirrors that the artist had smashed on the eve of the opening, leaving bits of broken glass on the floor. After the shifts in scale the viewer has experienced, this work brings us back to normal size. Like Lewis Carroll’s Alice, visitors to Kutter’s wonderland ventured down the rabbit hole, and traveled through the looking glass.
Photo: Susanne Kutter: Wohnzimmer (living room), 2010, Duratrans, lightbox, 211⁄2 by 341⁄4 inches; at Rasche Ripken.