Sanya Kantarovsky: A Solid House

Storyboard and Character Design Sanya Kantarovsky Director of Animation Rodrigo Pires Produced by Sanya Kantarovsky

A Solid House , 2022 12:21 min.

Initially conceived for Kantarovsky’s solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel in 2018.

Edition of 5 plus 2 Artist Proofs Copyright Sanya Kantarovsky

Luhring Augustine Gallery Stuart Shave Modern Art Executive Producer Arisohn + Murphy Voice Michael Portnoy

Directed by Sanya Kantarovsky

Text adapted from Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa, ©1973 by Chögyam Trungpa. Used by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boulder, CO. Digital Artists

Rafael Chies Pedro Conti Jesus Fernandez Mirko Jankovic Carmine Laietta V David Lee Richard Maegaki Alex Magno

Milorad Petkovic Mariano Steiner Gabriel Teixeira Juliano Warpechowski Cesar Zambelli Cinematography Derek Howard Editing Isaac Goes Michelle Yoon Associate Director Chadwick Rantanen

Additional Art Direction Kinet Music Gobby Street recording by Tamio Shiraishi Assistant Editor Chadwick Rantanen Associate Producer Chiara Sbolci Sound Designer Jared Arnold Foley Artist Jared Arnold Sound Mixing Heard City

Special thanks to: Nicola Lees Simone Krug Kate Marra the team at Aspen Art Museum Liz Magic Laser

Vera Laser Leos Carax Rich Aldrich Vanessa Thill Scott Portnoy

Carolyn Gimian Elena Filipovic Renate Wagner the team at Kunsthalle Basel Ashoka Mukpo Oliver Glosband Shambhala Publications Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche John and Trevania Henderson Warren Moe Celia Hollander Anh Do Eli Diner

Partner/Sound Mixer: Philip Loeb Managing Partner: Gloria Pitagorsky Executive Producers: Jackie James and Sasha Awn Senior Producer: Liana Rosenberg Producer: Nick Duvarney Assistant Producer: Dylan Stetson Assistant Mixers: Seth Brogdon,Virginia Wright, Zoltan Monori, Chenoa Tarin, Oddy Litlabo Colorists Marika Litz Nice Dissove 3D Rendering GPU Oven AV Consulting Christopher McDonald Film Development Kodak Film Lab NY Camera Equipment Rental Du-All Camera

Sanya Kantarovsky’s film A Solid House examines illusion in the realms of image-making, society, ideology, and at the very core of the self. In meticulously constructed computer animation, the film takes place in a dark, airless apartment, following the restless activities of a not-quite-human protagonist. Alternately bored and manic, the creature appears to be unable to leave. The apartment is filled with familiar trappings of late-capitalist consumer culture — Aesop hand soap, a Diptyque candle, and a clawfoot tub. There’s a Zeiss lens on a Sony camera and an unmistakable ding sound issues from the creature’s iPad which he impatiently ignores. Sequestered amongst a phantasmagoria of design and brand names signifying taste and class, the apartment and its appurtenances seem to update Walter Benjamin’s observation about the nineteenth-century bourgeois, that he “needs the domestic interior to sustain him in his illusions.” Yet our creature is uncomfortable here, on edge, caught in a slapstick routine with the surrounding objects: it trips, bumps its head, and topples from atop a Thonet chair.

All images: Sanya Kantarovsky, A Solid House (still), 2022. HD video, 12:21 min. Courtesy the artist, Luhring Augustine, and Stuart Shave Modern Art

A technical marvel of artifice and fictive solidities, the claustrophobic world of the creature is juxtaposed with footage of natural scenery shot on Super 16mm film. These vistas and intimate close-ups, indexed through the warm, analog materiality of film, present a striking contrast with the digital trompe-l’oeil of the creature and its environment in a way that faintly rhymes with the voiceover narration. Adapted from Tibetan Buddhist thinker Chögyam Trungpa’s seminal collection of lectures Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism (1973), the monologue presents an allegory for the formation and development of the ego, through a narrative of “a captive monkey in an empty house.” Kantarovsky’s creature at times appears to play the part of Trungpa’s monkey, and yet the relationship between the voiceover and the imagery is tenuous, intermittently aligning and diverging. At times, the authoritative voice of the narrator appears to emerge from sources within the house itself, or from the creature’s interior world.

Throughout his strange domestic journey, the creature is particularly consumed with French Neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David’s painting Death of Marat (1793). It pores over and fingers a reproduction in a book, and traces the figure on a steamed-up window pane. Jean-Paul Marat and David both, as members of the Committee of General Security, helped usher in the French Revolution’s murderous Reign of Terror. David’s painting, a masterpiece of propaganda, cloaked Marat in a seductive Christlike martyrdom to justify cruelty in the name of ideology. Rooted in the tradition of painting, the theatrical mimesis of computer-generated imagery, the substance from which the film emerges, marks a new stage in the history of manipulative representation.

As the creature retires to the bathtub, setting up a video camera on a tripod to capture its own Marat-like soak, he watches footage on his iPad of an American Apache helicopter strike in Afghanistan. The distorted images catch on the rippling simulated surface of the bath water, another reflection in a chain of reflections and projections. The creature’s body lurks under the reflection, like the violence buried in these distant images, or like the human ego at the heart of the many constructed systems that contrive our reality.

ABOUT THE ASPEN ART MUSEUM Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in 1979, the Aspen Art Museum is a thriving and globally engaged non-collecting contemporary art museum. Following the 2014 opening of the museum’s facility designed by Pritzker Prize– winning architect Shigeru Ban, the AAM enjoys increased attendance, renewed civic interaction, and international media attention. In July 2017, the AAM was one of ten institutions to receive the United States’ National Medal for Museum and Library Services for its educational outreach to rural communities in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley and its fostering of learning partnerships with civic and cultural partners within a 100-mile radius of the museum’s Aspen location. Aspen Art Museum

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Sanya Kantarovsky was born in Moscow, Russia in 1982 and currently lives and works in New York. He studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI and received his MFA at the University of California, Los Angeles. Kantarovsky recently presented solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Basel in Switzerland (2018) and the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, Italy (2017–2018). Recent group exhibitions include A Beautiful Night for All the People , 2nd Garage Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia; 100 Drawings from Now at the Drawing Center, New York, NY; Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millennium at Whitechapel Gallery, London; Baltic Triennial 13 GIVE UP THE GHOST at the Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania; The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin at the Jewish Museum, New York; The Eccentrics , at the Sculpture Center, New York; and his curatorial project Sputterances at Metro Pictures, New York. Other important presentations include Happy Soul at LAXART in Los Angeles; You are Not an Evening at Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst in Bremen; La Vie simple – Simplement la vie / Songs of Alienation at Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles, Arles, France; and Apricot Juice , with Ieva Misčeviūte, at Studio Voltaire in London. A comprehensive monograph entitled No Joke was co-published by Studio Voltaire and Koenig Books in 2016. Kantarovsky’s works are included in the permanent collections of several museums, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Tate Modern, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

AAM exhibitions are made possible by the Marx Exhibition Fund. General exhibition support is provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Visiting Artist Fund. Additional support is provided by the AAM National Council. Special thanks to Arhaus for their contributions to A Solid House .

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