Saturday Night Frights, 2017
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Malte Bruns is part of a history of artists interested in the artificiality of humanity; his fragmented human forms seem to pose questions of how far the divide between man and machine goes in contemporary society. There exists a complex interplay between the fragility of the human anatomy and its strengths, which is reflected in Bruns’ depiction of the body as a site of technology.
‘Saturday Night Frights’ is reminiscent of a Hollywood special-effects studio; here Bruns houses unseeing fragments of human anatomy, their veins visible under the artificial skin. The eerie setup of the installation highlights Malte Bruns’ humorous take on ‘bad taste’ aesthetics in films as he makes his manufactured creatures yet more unnatural by bathing them in bright colours. Prevously shown in a different configuration at the KIT Museum in Dusseldorf with the title ‘Tremors’, it made a reference to ‘horror trash’ cult classic films like Ron Underwood’s Tremors (1990) which featured massive subterranean, man-eating worms and combined two elements essential to Malte Bruns: the body and pop culture.
Simultaneously, Tremors could also be interpreted through a medical lens. Derived from the Latin ‘tremere’ meaning ‘to tremble’, a tremor describes an involuntary, repeated contraction of muscles. Bruns’ videos echo this meaning, as a rhythmic motif which flows throughout the loops of film in the installation; he depicts several body parts engaged in defective, mechanical movements as if they have lost both control and self-determination.
Focus on Die längste Theke, 2016
“The longest bar”, the Anglicised title of Bruns’ work, makes reference to Dusseldorf’s historic Old Town, also known as the “longest bar in the world” (die längste Theke der Welt) thanks to its many pubs and restaurants. This location is significant as Malte was a student at the Academy of Art Düsseldorf (2009–2014) where he studied sculpture with Prof. Georg Herold.
The slouched torso appears to either be as yet unfinished, or maybe the ruins of a finished work. A wooden plank juts out of the neck, a metal bar out of a shoulder – perhaps that which he refers to in the title of the work. These are materials from the hardware store, which Bruns uses to propagate his own manual work in relation to craft.
Busts have a long history in art as figurative forms which recreated the likeness of an individual, often cast out of marble, bronze or wood. Made of silicone, Bruns’ sculpture, with its unpolished nature goes against the tradition of sculpture as a ‘high art’ form often used to commemorate important members of society. As the head is missing, the sculpture is anonymous and ambiguous, it makes one wonder whose head should be atop those shoulders.