Michaela Meise’s new works depict feeling with the body. In two watercolors, we see an octopus, originally a naked animal that constructs a shell with what it finds on the ground. Like the octopus, society appears to be donning a new body in recent years. The octopus is a brain in motion that adapts its body to the constantly changing environment, protecting and expanding itself by appropriating ever new found objects.
The bodies in the works of Michaela Meise are symbols of transformation. They renew themselves over time – the time we need to quiet down, to feel what the skin senses, to hear what resounds in stillness. In a time of isolation, like during the corona crisis of the past months, one is no longer socially active and often mentally isolated as well. The particular sensitivity that can arise in such isolation gives us the time and space to perceive experiences in a focused way that we usually wouldn’t get to know and sometimes appear dreamlike. The exhibition title “still” can also be read as “film still”, as a standstill in the flow of the passage of time in a movie – a frozen situation. A feeling of standstill also emerges in the face of brutal, overwhelming incidents, like the right-wing extremist murders perpetrated in Hanau last year. The stillness of sorrow and shock, embedded in a context of continuity – for the attack was preceded by others. Structures continue to be in place, but networks of affected persons and activists are being formed in parallel. In English, “still” can also mean “now as ever” or “nevertheless.”
Along with persons and culturally charged fragments, Michaela Meise’s works also feature micro- and macrocosmic processes, or at least models of how we imagine them. The works are often productively grounded in banalities. The displayed breaks give rise to a surreal lightness, so that the addressed themes never appear idealized. Time and again, something appears awkward, humorously shedding light on a mood brought about by a different perspective. Michaela Meise depicts the living conditions of the past months. She draws from daily life as it is given, with recurring connections showing us how we live. What all works have in common is the exploration and depiction of a protective form. Michaela Meise thus creates a space of potentiality in the exhibition that interweaves our everyday reality with other images and offers us possible alternatives.