Writing about art is like dancing about architecture

by HRM on October 24, 2011

In Matthias Schleifer’s Studio, by Franziska Knupper

A handbag with sharp teeth lays on the floor, several miniature Eiffel towers stick out of a boxing glove and the sound of a single saxophone wafts in from next door – we are at the Cité Internationale des Arts Paris in Martin Schleifer’s atelier, his home.

Matthias Schleifer

The Cité Internationale des Arts regularly invites talented artists, composers and writers from all over the world to the rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, to Paris, where they are provided with space to live and work. While the neighbor next door is playing a never-ending loop of scales on his saxophone, echoing from the walls of the inner courtyard, Matthias Schleifer, a German artist from Karlsruhe, kindly opens the doors of his atelier and invites us to his world and creations. His creations include these threatening handbags and also his collections of three year-old pretzel sticks, a baguette with a hinge-joint, and the head of a stuffed dog.

Matthias Schleifer

The notorious puppy head, for example, finds his new home on the top of a drumpad, his fluffy pink hair not really matching his new task. A plastic mask of a human face takes a nap on a mattress found in the streets of Paris, a broken vinyl disc record is fixed with a zipper and in every corner of this place newspaper cuttings of naked women and numerous bottles of glitter nail polish just seem to be piling up. “But no worries, that’s not for personal use, everything here is just for art’s sake,” he laughs.

Matthias Schleifer

Currently, Shleifer is developing a series of photographs taken from unfamiliar angles, playing with visual perceptions and forcing us to overcome the natural, the conventional impression of the objects being displayed.

“I like the moment when you are confronted with a certain senselessness, perplexity, absurdity”, he says when looking at his pictures of scooters on wheels of bread, of toilet paper, of mirror balls. What we consider an important of a certain object, of a certain perspective, suddenly appears outworn and antiquated when manipulated by Schleifer. Forever rendering banalities into art, he inspires everyday objects to become something more. In one of my favourite photos, Schleifer makes holes in a plastic bag and puts the bag in front of the camera. What’s left is a shattered image of the world, a swift glimpse of the surroundings behind. “I want a reaction of confusion, of being overwhelmed by what you see, by what you’re confronted with. I don’t particularly want the spectator to understand, only to guess.”

Matthias Schleifer

Matthias Schleifer

Some of his pictures seem arranged, sometimes static, even though coincidence plays a big part in his achieving: ”Sometimes I find certain things just as they are and just need to make a tiny change in order to give it that absurd, surrealistic look.”, he says while having coffee, cherry pie and cigarettes. In his images, I realize that reality becomes negotiable.

Matthias Schleifer

“Nevertheless, I have certain projects where everything has to be in his place, where I spent hours arranging every detail before even grabbing the camera,” he adds, referring to several of his earlier works such as the “pretzel stick storm,” where he arranged millions of pretzel sticks like tiny needles around a decorated Christmas tree.

His coin circles develop this same theme: he laid out a perfect, ideal shape of a circle of coins in a pedestrian area only not find them gone the next day. “I think I struggle to explain my own work even though I know exactly what I want and why I do it. But I don’t know if words are actually the right tool for defining that, for defining art.”

All works by Matthias Schleifer.

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