The photos here are from Bryan Christiansen’s Trophy Hunter, which is up through May 9, in case you can stop by. The basic idea here is great: Christiansen treats “discarded household furniture that he finds in neglected urban areas” as rare animals found on a hunt.
He skins them, mounts their resulting pelts on the wall, and then digs through the cracks, stuffing, folds, and hollows to store whatever lost objects remain.
These gutted insides thus “stand in for the trophies, antler mounts, and pelts so often prized by hunters,” the museum explains, Remote controls, stained upholstery, scattered coins, buttons, and much more are all displayed like preserved organs and prized cuts of meat, the trappings of a wild hunt as played out in the world of home furnishings.
The furniture that is thus skinned and gutted is then reassembled into totemic animal forms, like some strange new shamanism of couches. These creatures now stand alert throughout the gallery space, their bodies ingenious reconfigurations of wooden legs, springs, and seat frames.
There is something genuinely amazing, for me, in this almost animistic approach to the world of sofas, kitchen chairs, and love-seats; there is also an eye-opening candor in Christiansen’s recognition that many of these furnishings were wearing animal skin in the first place: leather couches and den chairs and more all already surfaced in the flesh of living creatures. The hunt analogy is both artistically inspired and materially appropriate. Even the case of an artificial covering—such as polyester or vinyl—being hung up like the skin of a prized animal takes on a post-natural ring that leaves me stunned.
It’s like a scene from John Carpenter’s 1984 film Starman, where Jeff Bridges brings back to life a deer that was recently shot and killed by hunters: only, in this case, artist Bryan Christiansen walks into a room and the furniture around him comes creaking back to life, broken apart and shelved in pieces, but welcomed back to the realm of animal nature.