Gallery von Tempelhoff, Karlsruhe
A pack of wild animals seems to have raced over the carpet and vanished, leaving only tracks behind. These are cut into the top layer of a paper tapestry that gives the installation Wilde Jagd (Wild Chase) its name. Variations of this installation have been on tour since 1996, stopping off at different galleries and museums. The installation takes its title from Eduart Schaller's painting (1937) of an exuberant hunting expedition, whose composition is reflected in the tracks. The carpet, which – owing to its size – largely defines the exhibition, is flanked by further paper and photo rubber print carpets. Upside down between them hang porcelain rabbits, willing victims of the chase, whose picture is pinned to their bodies. The silhouettes of these rabbits also appear as elements of the patterns on the carpets. Wilde Jagd is a tapestry of associations. For like carpets, porcelain rabbits are a product of a stylised and domesticated nature. The ornamentation of the carpets draws on popular images of the gardens of paradise. The carpet is a “heterotropical place” (Michel Foucault), a place where different spaces are brought together, a mobile garden in which the entire world order is symbolically reflected. The tracks cut into the upper of the double-layered carpets of the installation refer to fairy tales like the Town Musicians of Bremen, to the hunt, or the prosaic encounter of the maid and the cow. All these are human projections, reflecting our strategies of appropriation and socialisation of nature, and the resulting pictorial and cultural derivations.
The installation is supplemented with a game table. Four players can partake in the game developed by Stratmann, and make their own carpet patterns with the designated playing pieces, according to pattern cards they have previously drawn from a pack. The players may interact with one another, or intervene in the games of the others to their own advantage: a game of tactics thus, which results in a picture. With this game, Stratmann involves his viewers and draws them into a communicative process – that of the game itself, and of the game’s association to the thematic complex of the installation, which in turn is reflected in the form of the game.
This ensemble of art works already sets out two principles that link Stratmann’s various installations and works – the element of playfulness and the richly inferential narrative. By turning his viewers into fellow players, the artist bridges the distance that normally defines their position as viewers expecting a purely visual encounter. He pulls viewers out of their customary indifference and lures them into the magnetic field of his work. And thus the viewer enters the present tense of the game.