Deadly Pleasures: The Devil’s in the Details of These Dark Miniature Scenes

Every dumb thing we humans do in this modern-day ‘civilized’ world is laid out in excruciating detail in these miniature scenes by artist Frank Kunert – not to mention our fears and anxieties. A row of public toilets is placed on a stage so strangers can watch you poop. A bride and groom poise at the end of a diving platform far too high above a pool, their friends and family watching below. A children’s slide empties onto a highway, and a bassinet is equipped with a desk so the little one can get to work as soon as possible. Pipes funnel human waste straight from the toilet upstairs into a television set, and a balcony projects into the path of a train.

Each of these works is a darkly humorous critique mocking us for contemporary habits and practices, from setting ourselves up for danger a la the Darwin Awards to creating cycles of consumption that kill us instead of satisfying us. Art museums are literally out of reach. The only living tree visible in the neighborhood is solely accessible via a dangerous staircase. A beautiful modern villa cuts off sunlight to the hovel below.

Some of the scenes look ordinary upon first glance, and it takes a moment to realize what’s wrong with them. Doors on the side of an apartment tower might lead into nothing but air, or a single chair at a formal dining table is placed out in the cold while the rest are cozy indoors.

Kunert painstakingly crafts each of these miniature scenes as part of his series Photographs of Small Worlds, and then documents them for his portfolio. He works on each one until it captures the mood and message he’s aiming for without any digital manipulation. You can see more of his work at his website, which offers much of his portfolio in photo book form, or in person September 10th 2017 through January 28th 2018 at Germany’s Museum Boppard.