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Tobias Putrih’s Experimental Utopia


“ I don’t think art is about consistency. It’s about complexity … The key question for me is how to make an object that expresses its own self-doubt, questions its own existence.” — Tobias Putrih

As a general rule, we as a species can often be faulted for taking things for granted. We can be lazy viewers, participants, thinkers—accepting what is as what always will be. And so it’s up to some of the brighter minds to keep us engaged, to ask that we look at the world in a totally different way, questioning what is and why.

It’s been over a decade since multimedia artist Tobias Putrih landed in the New York City art scene, a Slovenia transplant that immediately offered viewers a fresh dialogue with space and objects. Using everyday materials—from plastic to cardboard to tape to twist ties—Putrih redefined the familiar, creating sculptures both artistic and architectural in nature, oftentimes making pieces the viewer could engage with directly.  

One of Putrih’s most popular works is a series of cinemas structures, which usually look less like your neighborhood Cineplex and more like something dreamed up by Michel Gondry. These miniaturized theaters—maquettes , if you will—are deconstructed, modern in thought but almost backwards in design. Lumpy, imperfect, strange and unique, they alternate between makeshift huts and futuristic brambles, unexpected homes for a seemingly incongruous form of entertainment.

Whether it’s a stack of boxes in the shape of an arch of water, Styrofoam igloos, cardboard monoliths, Putrih reimagines the world in a comprehensible scale, pushing forward in asking “why?” while going further still, demanding the “why not?” 

All photos courtesy of photographer and Tobias Putrih.