48 HEADS FROM THE MERKUROV MUSEUM (after Kurt Kren), 2011
Varying realities: That would define one of the most important processes employed by Anna Artaker, which in her case often involves putting historiographic constellations into perspective. Working intensively with death masks made by the Soviet sculptor Sergey Merkurov (1881–1952), a student of Auguste Rodin, Artaker translates them into various medial forms. The masks, from the Merkurov Museum in Gyumri, Armenia, represent an unusual “archive of faces,” particularly because the personalities from the fields of culture and politics (primarily male) in it represent both progressive and totalitarian tendencies of the Soviet regime.
Either as a series or in stereoscopic display cases, Artaker presents photographs of these masks, referring to the specific contexts of the individual portraits and the original material´s three-dimensionality — at the same time underlining the contrasting materiality. Nonetheless, a special kind of intimacy is created between the photographic imaging principle and the one according to which the casts were created in a process of reproduction. This is also shown with regard to the work she performed on the film, which Artaker explicitly connects to Kurt Kren´s 48 Heads from the Szondi Test (1960): Kren took the projective personality test created by Hungarian psychiatrist Leopold Szondi in 1937 to an absurd level by undermining the principle of similarity and recognition on which the experiment´s based by means of a swift montage of photographic portraits. This confrontation of a variety of references and their contexts illustrates Artaker´s objective: a critical revision that in each case represents an examination by means of visualization processes.
Translation: Steve Wilder
48 KÖPFE AUS DEM MERKUROV MUSEUM (nach Kurt Kren)
4 min 19 sec