A prison-cell-sized house, hemmed in beneath a freeway bridge; a discount funeral home that offers special rebates and a “happy ending”; the room decorated for Christmas, which is snowed in nearly to the ceiling – artist Frank Kunert’s sophisticated miniature worlds are like ironic chambers of curiosities reflecting our reality.
The ensuing photographs of his miniature masterpieces play with perception: what is staged, what is perceived as reality? Here, objects are removed from their usual contexts; themes about life and longing are charmingly satirised. The grand piano becomes an office desk titled “Das Leben ist kein Wunschkonzert” (a German metaphor meaning, “life is not a bowl of cherries”). And a street comes to an end in a baby-blue nowhere-land – it’s a literal “Trip into the Blue,” the kind of mystery trip you’d have in a dream.
“Kunert’s ‘small worlds’, as he calls his chambers of curiosities, are somewhere in between the grotesque and the metaphysical. Their charm and magic stems from the fact that they take serious things – unfulfilled hopes, failure, death – and stage them with a light hand,” writes the journalist Jörg Restorff about the miniatures that Kunert builds with a great deal of patience and an obsessive preoccupation with detail, then immortalises with an analogue, large-format camera.
This latest series, Lifestyle, features twenty-four of Kunert’s miniatures and is also available as a book, published by Hatje Cantz. Other books by Kunert include Topsy-Turvy World and Wunderland. Speaking of his style, he said: “I’ve always needed to work in peace and quiet, without interruption; I’ve always succeeded best at this when making my own world with my own hands in my own quiet, little space so that I could tell stories.”