Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick

Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick are a collaborative artist team who have been working together since they met while attending art school at Washington University in St. Louis in the early 1980s. Both were born in 1964, in New York City and London respectively. They work primarily in the fields of photography and installation art, specializing in fictitious histories set in the past or future. These may include: documentary-style panoramic and square photographs that combine absurdist fantasy and bogus anthropology; elaborately crafted artifact, costumes and sculpture, often constructed of unlikely materials such as bread or fur, painting and drawings ranging from large scale works on plaster to pages of conceptual doodling. Today we take a look at there series titled, The Truppe Fledermaus & the Carnival at the End of the World.

a_distant_storm_oDistant Storm

bat_cart copy_oBat Cart

The Truppe Fledermaus & the Carnival at the End of the World.

Kahn & Selesnick’s latest project concerns a fictitious cabaret troupe, the Truppe Fledermaus, who travel the countryside staging absurd and inscrutable performances in the abandoned landscapes beyond the town’s edge. To create this ‘Theater of Memory’, the Truppe are as apt to commemorate the passing of an unusual cloud as they are to be found documenting their own attempts to flee the rising waters of a warming planet, or using black humor to comment upon the mass extinction of bats or other animals. The original Memory Theatre, as conceived by Giulio Camillo, reduces the audience of the drama to a single member, placing them on stage at the center of the proscenium arch, whereupon they gaze out into the amphitheater, using the performance taking place there as a mnemonic device to deconstruct the world around us; in addition to using this concept address ecological themes, Kahn & Selesnick also use it as a metaphor for the manner in which seemingly inexhaustible quantities of information are disseminated to us in the modern world.

bat_procession copy_oBat Procession

dust_bowl copy_oDust Bowl

high_water_mark_1500 copy_oHigh Water Marks

Apocalyptic weather is documented to the point of extinction; we are bombarded by endless images of our own virtual lives, constantly rebroadcasted to us over our various devices. So the Truppe travel on, performing for nobody, advertising their performances through posters and handbills, performances that never happened, an endless preview reel for a mock-life that never was, for a film that does not exist. Also contained within the memory theater is a fragmentary memoir of Kahn & Selesnick’s own relationship, as told through lightly veiled doppelgängers and situations (is our world inhabited by any creatures other than doppelgängers or avatars?), offering a rare glimpse of the collaborator’s working life, and quite frankly, their neuroses and sometime disfunctionality! All this is offered to the viewer as an incomplete novel-in-progress, perhaps found in the attic of the Memory Theater itself (is the author deceased?) that may either be enjoyed for its lush surfaces and visual inventiveness, or delved into at length, quite possibly at the viewer’s own peril!

king_of_weeds_1500 copy_oKing Of Weeds

SONY DSCPlague Doctor

prophet_of_the_ditch_1500 copy_oProphet of the Ditch

rider_of_the_apocalypse_1500 copy_oRider of the Apocalypse

ropeman_1500 copy_oRope Man

voyage_of_greenman_1500 copy_oVoyage of Greenman

Gallery View :

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Their current work features the recreation of the famous Truppe Fledermaus’s Memory Theatre of 1932 with its full complement of Batfolk, Greenmen, Rope-Slingers, and Death-Dancers in all theirCarnivalesque glory. Kahn & Selesnick have participated in over 100 solo and group exhibitions worldwide and have work in over 20 collections, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Houston Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution. In addition, they have published 3 books with Aperture Press, Scotlandfuturebog, City of Salt, and Apollo Prophecies.

To view more of Kahn & Selesnick’s magical work please visit their website.