Artist collective, sstmrt who have lived and worked together since 2012 recently put on a show in their Parisian apartment called Apartment 2016, which ran February 13 to 27, 2016. It is unclear who exactly is in the collective —a nice reflection of their work which is to share space, skills, image each others’ fashion wear in bedrooms and live amongst their installations —but Apartment 2016 was organised by curators Charles Teyssou and Pierre-Alexandre Mateos, who emailed us with some images, videos and a short description of the two weeks.
Mostly it was red, it appears. Red light is everywhere, glowing in all the images populated with no people but a roll of toilet paper tattooed in ‘sstmrt’ in bold font with its end tucked into itself, a fake person sat watching a video projected, a white ceramic object, beds, lampshades, a kitchen and some windows. It feels eerie to look at these images, like the inside of a box you are not supposed to know how to get inside of, since, indeed, the residents of the apartment did live there with and throughout this and in the images they appear nowhere.
Sounds of subtle female orgasms were playing through speakers next to the drying rack and the kitchen sink and other speakers were breathing on top of radiators in corridors, all captured in short videos saturated in red hue and an occasional strobe light that Teyssou and Mateos have since put on Vimeo, taken by and courtesy of artist Pascal Gambarte. These videos do have people inside them. Its like they are the life (not live) versions of the show in its aftermath, and they feel important despite their length.
There is another video that exists on YouTube now —but in the apartment was shown on a laptop on top of a bed, as though you could lie on your front to watch it, elbows underneath your chin and feet pointing to the ceiling. The video is CCTV footage of the apartment recorded while the show was installed. For the 11-minute 15-second piece, subtitled as ‘Surveillance’, sstmrt have sped up the footage resulting in a couple of beautiful moments like when watching the relationship between the strobe light and a fast-forwarded still video recording of the bathroom. You start to wonder if you will see someone use the toilet—as Teyssou and Mateos write, “it was possible to watch the inhabitants perform their daily routine apparently not troubled at all by the installation”—while at the same time concluding that because of the strobing and the sped-up version of realtime, maybe you just never will.
From the outside of the apartment on the rue Pierre Leroux, with its “typical Parisian characteristics… old parquet, cute mouldings and a horrible pipe system”, you see the red glowing through the inverse bay windows. The photo is perfect, symmetrical and balanced, taken at night when, from the outside, Apartment 2016 is at its most intriguing and visual and from the inside, perhaps most domestic and lived-in. It’s very difficult to let seep out in imaged form domestic atmosphere and live living —structured, and in some part aestheticised, or not —without turning it into something that feels totally on the outside of this thing that can only really exist on the inside of a group, a relationship or at least, four walls and a roof. sstmrt have done this really well in a way that almost actively conceals, empties out and blurs the interior, leaving just the atmosphere.**
Exhibition photos, top right.