Michaela Meise – Guten Tag @ KM, Berlin
Pictures by Sebastian Mayer
We are pleased to present the first solo exhibition by Michaela Meise at KM and are happy to congratulate her for recently winning the 2019 Kunstpreis der Städtischen Galerie Nordhorn (Art Prize of the City of Nordhorn).
Already before entering the gallery, visitors can see a sculpture as a vis-à-vis composed of two works – Angelus Harpyie (2019) and Eribon–Vanderbilt (2017). They appear to extend beyond the exhibition space into the city – Hello! The sculpture opens up from an inner dialogue to the surrounding space in a contrary movement. The intertwining of upward and downward motion is underpinned by the chair, standing stable only on three feet, on which a limestone sculpture rests. One foot does not touch the ground. The viewer is invited to enter into a dialogue with a spatial body that features various cultural techniques and social levels as a new, variegated and fragile entity. The stone stands weightlessly on the chair that with its collage-like layers evokes ambivalent images and perspectives. An African fabric printed on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2009 serves as the basis for an advertisement for kitchen furniture showing two self-confident, apparently happy women drinking coffee and laughing with each other. Female empowerment meets white smugness. On the backrest of the chair, an application form for rent subsidy becomes an ornament. Among other signs and symbols, “Physiotherapie” is carved into the chair and on it sits this chimera made of stone. The materials and states merge in the way they are set, so that in material terms, as well, an amalgam of the artist’s engagement with our present emerges.
Material, corporeal and mental states are also the theme of Michaela Meise’s seven new collages. By establishing reference systems, she creates a resonating space for a new attitude. One could call it a radically subjective realism. Seemingly lightheartedly and full of humor, the collages confront us with silhouettes of people. Almost all are cut out of cotton cloth, in which clay has breathed for a long time. In one collage, we read: “Goodnight, Seattle and good mental health.” The good-bye that Frasier, a TV anchor and psychoanalyst in an American TV sitcom, always says at the end of his radio show. The sitcom accompanies people living in Seattle in the 1990s, who exemplarily stand for the carefree, postmodern life at the end of history, which since 9/11 no longer exists. The protagonists live in a bubble of affluence that today appears escapist.
The silhouettes in all collages are almost entirely without facial expressions, so that the body language and its meaning, which goes beyond the individual, is highlighted. The viewer can therefore directly identify with the situations of the persons in the images. The artist repeatedly distances herself from gestures of sublimity and superiority in her works, she breaks them and, in the collage Two horsemen (2019), directly denounces them. The materials in this collage differ strongly from those of the other works. The rhythm and tone of her compositions, which are otherwise supported by benevolent humor, are exaggerated here to an aggressive obliteration of fantasies of superiority and glitter. In Michaela Meise’s works, the background often comes to the fore and thus opens the view to underlying taboos.