rethink duality | Sofie Muller & Evelyn Loschy
9.11.2017 - 13.1.2018
Eröffnung / opening: Donnerstag / Thursday, 9.11.2017, 18h
Artist Talk: Montag / Monday, 13.11.2017, 18h
Sofie Muller & Evelyn Loschy im Gespräch mit / in conversation with
Stef Van Bellingen, Kurator / curator
in Kooperation mit / in cooperation with Geukens & De Vil Gallery
Im Rahmen der VIENNA ART WEEK 2017 / In context of the VIENNA ART WEEK 2017
WO / WHERE: Galerie Michaela Stock, Schleifmühlgasse 18, 1040 Vienna, Austria
When one is on the verge of recalling memories, one can have the sense of nearing recollections of great power; these emotion-laden scenes often beckon inward, into tantalizing, sometimes disturbing feelings of loneliness, bleakness but also hope.
The exhibition “rethink duality” presents the work of Sofie Muller and Evelyn Loschy. Through the juxtaposition of contrasting elements, both artists engage the audience in conflicting emotions. This exhibition reflects radical thinking expressed through a diverse range of media, from (kinetic-) sculpture, video to works on paper, in which the (absent) body gives expression to a divided reality, besieged by emotional and social control. Both artists are not afraid to look into the hidden crevices of the human psyche, without shying away from the abyss that can be found inside.
But, what in its core, connects the works of Evelyn Loschy and Sofie Muller? Indeed, they are both female, they are both rejecting the conventional art forms such as painting or drawing. But what is this thin thread that connects and intertwines their oeuvres in such a symbiotic way? Their main topics revolve around deconstruction of the reality, and ultimately it comes down to dealing with sensitive (childhood) memories of the individual past that overwhelm the ordinary human adaptations of life. They create a challenging vision of our world, exposing its contradictions and complexities while making the audience rethink, recollect and relate to the strong affect that is emanating from the pieces. Through their sculptures and videos both of the artists are taking the role of a narrator of a different reality. When the spectator is faced with these alienated and introverted artwork, they transform, and represent no more a mere art piece, but a memory – a suppressed emotion. And no matter how isolating they seem, they also give hope to the viewer.
Sofie Muller is well known for her sculptures, performative videos and smoke drawings, the latter arise with smoke traces of candle flames, - which challenge the formal languages of surrealism to expose a world characterized by contradictions. The sculptural series “Alabaster Mentalis” by Muller opens up old wounds and sheds light to the ones that have not fully healed. All of them will eventually harden, and become physical or mental scars and deformations just like the ones that are visible on her isolated heads. Albeit simultaneously creating the scars in a raw yet poetic way, they will never disappear, and will be left as an unwanted reminder.
Expunging or oppressing a memory in one’s mind seems like a tangible notion when looking at particular works of both artists. Evelyn Loschy works with a large variety of materials and methods, reaching from video, site specific interventions to kinetic sculptures which have become the focus of her work. Destruction and self-destruction play a central role in her oeuvre. In one of the gallery rooms one can see the kinetic-destructive sculpture “Nothing is for Free” made by Loschy. A swing is hanging from the ceiling of an empty room. While swinging, time and time again, the object hits the wall and by doing so causes partial injury, a scratch. With every repeating clash, the wall is removed bit by bit. However, the swing will never be able to fully go through the wall. Having a closer look, one can realize the children’s swing is made out of steel that turns into a threatening and cold mechanism rather than an inviting one. The machines movements become a destructive performative act, in which a children's toy transforms into an apparatus of unrest.
While in “Nothing is for Free” the direct bodily references are completely absent, in the other room, “Brandt” from Sofie Muller, shows a bronze body of a boy, leaning with his head and shoulder passively against the wall. Behind him a black drag mark positioned at the height of his head can be seen. If examined closely, one can notice that half of the boys’ head, made of wood, is burned completely. The burn represents a drastic sign of an inner wound and is one of many examples in Sofie Mullers’ work of using fire in an effort to burn the (possibly) traumatic experiences from memory. But no matter how hard the try, traces of the memory can still be visible spread out on the wall.
These two sculptures are connected through the gallery wall. On the one side of it, the swing slams against it and on the other the boy leaves his traces. They try to communicate and capture the transient moment of human existence. The wall serves as a canvas for both works, a tabula rasa in a sense. On it, the traces of memory are shown, smeared on the wall and fading out of the injured head or localized but strong and concrete, unwilling to break. Ultimately, no matter how different their approaches are, the end game is the same. Regardless how hard one tries, one can never run away from their own memories. Burned or scarred, they can never be fully destroyed. Through these works, the artists wish to activate a psychological and emotional response. The sculptures encourage the viewer to mentally project themselves onto the objects. In a very general sense they create a situation where reality itself becomes a questionable point while simultaneously dealing with the vulnerability of the body.
The video works of both artists are, from different perspectives, dealing with the correlation between the personal and collective memory, and emotions connected to a certain space or an object. In the video work of Sofie Muller named “Barbara” from 2012, we encounter fire once more. This time the ambivalent power of the element is used to transform a neo gothic 19th century statue of St. Barbara into a performative sculpture and a contemporary artwork. Unlike the other sculptures in Sophie’s work, this one is much closer to the artist herself and in a way more personal. The statue of St. Barbara is an old family heirloom, something very close and familiar to the artist, that is filled with a myriad of personal memories. Burning this emotionally charged statue represents the ultimate healing method for the artist herself.
Evelyn Loschy`s video from 2017, "I met Eduard Steinberg but never got to see him", records the artist’s attempt to construct memories with a person whom she never met. Loschy lived and worked in the atelier house of the Russian painter Eduard Steinberg (1937-2012) in a small village near Moscow, named Tarussa. In this video work she searches for the artistic and cultural identity of Steinberg and confronts it to her own.
She deconstructs Steinberg’s paintings, daily life objects as well as music and transforms them into mutual memories. The result of this process is making new memories and emotional attachments to the objects that now feel like a part of her life. Loschy creates a challenging vision of her world, exposing its contradictions and complexities. The video therefore becomes full of associations and meaning - a reflection on the social environment we inhabit. The experience is more physical and direct in that the visual aspect of the work engages the viewer in a physical, sensual, maybe even emotional way.
The work of Muller and Loschy remains open enough to allow different interpretations of the viewer, which reflects on their own experience. The sculptures encourage the viewer to mentally project themselves onto the objects. At the same time healing and injuring, reminding us that what truly makes us are our memories and emotions. We leave traces of them in everything we touch and through marking them by different methods they make these traces visible.