ADVENTURES IN A BOX : FRITZ SAUTER & MATTHEW ROSE
Bound to a desk in front of a computer screen is no doubt the formatting of new perspectives and outlooks, not always ideal but certainly explorations in varying directions. No longer confined to location what is quite heartening is the connections and networks that grow from chance encounters via the web. Work, ideas and output have a more open ideological middle ground, once its live it is in every sense out there, for interpretation, discussion, review and optimistically for growth and experimentation. Swiss artist Fritz Sauter came across the work of Matthew Rose (France) via various online media/gallery profiles, Red Fox Press, Facebook, Blogs and in particular a project by Rose ‘A Book About Death’ (http://abookaboutdeath.blogspot.com/). Mutual communication and image sharing of related ideas eventually spurred a trip from Paris to Schaffhausen in January 2011 to work free style in Fritz’s letter press studio and their combined abilities morphed into “Adventures in a Box”, a collaborative book project.
The box: powerful, magical and convenient. It is where jewels are kept and loved ones buried. Solid or flimsy, the box is the willing partner to most anything: Old letters, old clothes, cash, trash, ash. Our boxes shift shape and purpose: A suitcase, a briefcase, a cigarette case. Sealed by tape or string or the gravity of its cover, like a heart, the box beats out a certain secret. A gift. A poisoned gift.
That’s the wide-eyed premise of Adventures in a Box, a collaborative spiriting down the rabbit hole by Swiss-German and letterpress Kunstler Fritz Sauter, and Paris based American dadaist Matthew Rose. Like Alice through the looking glass, Adventures – in printed works and altered objects – are voyages of the mind: Trips that scribble backwards and upside down via letterpress; here text and image amuses, perplexes, maps out and reaches out.
Beginning with dozens of 36x36cm cardboard boxes, purchased by Fritz from a local monopac-factory and a varied collection of cast off supplies from the local Salvation Army, the initial suggested to fill the boxes was the start of the “Adventure”. In a limited edition of 24, more than two dozen individual works in collage, letterpress, drawing, rubber stamp, altered objects and even buttons found are packaged like a massive Dagwood sandwich, multi-layered with each piece a chapter in a trip through death, love, drunkenness, God, Disney, pin-ups and the meaning of political discourse in a world gone akimbo. Stealing the flame from Duchamp’s Boite en Valise, the Frenchman’s “portable exhibition” of his significant works and ready mades, Adventures, is essentially a complete and ready-made exhibition in a box.
Once in the studio, which overlooked the Rhine, it was a mad rush of cutting and pasting and pulling type from an immense collection. “Fritz would ink up the press and we’d roll right through the day.” explains Rose. “The collaboration was intensive” says Fritz, “we discussed every aspect seriously – sometimes we found a way to make the works, sometimes we didn’t. We argued about translations, design, colours, paper, it was like a marriage! But in art, I prefer to work in ways where meaning is different for people. Agreement was not the goal, conversation was the goal and in the end, the adventure.”
A gold record featuring ‘Fritz Sauter sings Vivaldi offers the B side of ‘Mathew Rose complains about Swiss food’. Another work is a simple button exhorting you to: FRAGEN SIE IHER KUNSTLER(ASK YOUR ARTIST). Fritz also created a series of abstract drawings in crayon, and rubber stamps for each box. Meanwhile Matthew spent one afternoon composing 25 of his unique collages using American pin ups, medical illustrations and bits of magazine ads from the 1950s. Political posters in wooden type- “FUCK YOU AND YOUR POLITICS” – were paired with cold type text bitching about Western societies: “THE SWISS ARE PERFECT”
A nod to Matthew’s global art project, A Book About Death, was made using old letterpress letters in a sunspot design: ABAD. Printed in powder blue on neon orange, the design is accompanied with Fritz’s text:” Anyway so bad it cannot be the thing with death. Till yet I never heard any complaints about it.” Following this theme, a death announcement card is addressed to GOD with the hard news that God is dead.
“We filled the ‘Schachtel’ (box) with almost every idea we had during the four days in Switzerland,” says Fritz. ” You can take each piece in your hands and examine it. The art is intimate, but it’s also quite a surprise. So many different ideas, but I can hear (and see) them all talking to each other. Its like a guide to some strange place!”
The limited edition work is dedicated to the French artist Jean-Paul Chagniot (1951-2011), who died just as the project was launched. Two boxes are already in the art collection of the city of Schaffhausen, Switzerland. The works are available direct from each artist. Each boxed edition is priced at 500 euro, plus handling and shipping.
To order: http://matthewroseartworks.blogspot.com/ PayPal Matthew Rose: firstname.lastname@example.org