Rebellion, an exhibition of work by Nina Wiesnagrotzki and Maximilian Schmoetzer, is on view at Los Angeles’ From the Desk of Lucy Bull through June 28th.
An airplane frozen in perpetual downward descent and a dead bird stuffed in a paper cup share the surface of a desk with hand-woven carpets shaped like human bodies. To the rear, yellow stones and letters forming the words DEAD AIR hang from strings on a balcony. When there’s a breeze, the stones clink like wind chimes.
This tableau combines the work of Berlin-based artists Nina Wiesnagrotzki and Maximilian Schmoetzer, who previously blurred the lines between artistic collaboration and intimate two-person showing at Komplot in Brussels. They reunite here for artist Lucy Bull’s ongoing “From the Desk of Lucy Bull” curatorial project, in which invited artists display work on a desk (usually) situated in Bull’s airy Los Angeles apartment.
Historical subjects inform both artists’ contributions. Schmoetzer’s sculptures explore recent environmental deregulation in the United States and what has been called “the worst bird strike in U.S. history” when a veritable cloud of starlings crashed into an Eastern Airlines flight in 1960. The forms push and pull between the man-made and the natural, never settling in one direction or the other, always in flow.
Wiesnagrotzki’s textile figures, meanwhile, are named after the founders of the early 20th century Japanese feminist magazine Bluestocking (Seitō). She folds and extends them over and around the desk in reference to a traditional Japanese chabudai, a similarly short-legged table used for everything from dining to working to gambling. The feminists lounge as if hanging out, while remaining in discourse. Intermingled in Bull’s apartment, the historical references in both artists’ work echo in the background while new meanings emerge; the ominous and domestic coalesce into a mysterious, ritualistic mood. The viewer is invited to join.