Jonathan Trayte invites us to a world of fun at Castor Projects

by vanessa and martin

Amusement parks have that peculiar quality of being fun yet spine-chilling at the same time. I got that feeling, familiar from childhood recollections, in Jonathan Trayte’s current exhibition “SCHUSSBOOMER” at Castor Projects, London.

 

Jonathan Trayte, Zillerplattenspitze, 2017, Coin activated mechanism, mechanical base, plywood, stainless steel, painted bronze, concrete, resinated plaster, pigments, light fittings, speakers, paint, flock | Photography by Delilah Olson

 

Three voluminous sculptures reminiscent of landscape formations are brought to life in the form of flashing lights, animated movements, and pre-recorded sounds by introducing 20p coins. This is the case with “Zillerplattenspitze”, whose caption directly references a mountain peak in Austria. Its natural construction clashes with its artificially coloured tones –including bright orange lights with almost an edible quality attached to them- and after a high-speed thrill, its shimmering energy gradually decreases until becoming, again, a static installation.

Enthusiastically devoted to the particular activity of inserting coins into these devices, I find myself looking at Trayte’s works with great enjoyment as they loudly shift around. Convincingly appealing due to their pleasing aesthetics, there is a slightly dark overtone in this performance, due to their repetitive rhythms composed of violent cooking actions, along with their considerable size and mechanical movements.

 
Jonathan Trayte, Schütteln Wippe, 2017, Coin activated mechanism, mechanical base, steel, plywood, polystyrene, resinated plaster, pigments, nylon, light fittings, speakers, paint, flock | Photography by Delilah Olson

Jonathan Trayte, Schütteln Wippe, 2017, Coin activated mechanism, mechanical base, steel, plywood, polystyrene, resinated plaster, pigments, nylon, light fittings, speakers, paint, flock | Photography by Delilah Olson

 

The exhibition’s starting point, and the source of its title, is an amusement ride that closed in 1984, located at Worlds of Fun, Missouri. This roller coaster was named after a person who skied directly down a slope at high speed, in other words, a schussboomer. The carefully chosen title seems adequate for Trayte’s installations, which resemble amusement park arcades, but it is the correspondence of the sound between the title of the show, “schussboomer” and the word “consumer” that fascinates me. In fact, Trayte’s culinary background opened up his interest in the material qualities of food, and in the food industry’s attempt to persuade us through marketing, which results in his own work referencing globally sourced food-packaging colour combinations along with a highly seductive overall appearance.

 
Jonathan Trayte, onion ring edition, 2017, cast bronze | Photography by Delilah Olson

Jonathan Trayte, onion ring edition, 2017, cast bronze | Photography by Delilah Olson

 

Occupying the entire space, the pastel-pink wallpaper depicts a close-up of an Italian processed ham, Mortadella, where the cubes of pork fat layers are left visible. Moreover, bronze casts of onion rings are suspended from the ceiling, just as fair trophies. Indeed, this exhibition upholds a strong reference to consumer culture; in fact, it is the noises, the smells, and the tastes that characterise a funfair atmosphere; although it also marks a notable shift for Trayte, out of a habit of creating a reciprocal participatory body of work, in which the works are incomplete without the viewers physical interaction, creating a dynamic collaboration between the artist, the audience and their environment.

Jonathan Trayte, Schussboomer at Castor Projects is on view until 27 January 2018.

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