September 24, 2019 - Swiss Institute - Jill Mulleady: Fight-or-Flight / life and limbs, curated by Anna-Sophie Berger / New SI ONSITE Works
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September 24, 2019

Swiss Institute

Jill Mulleady, Fight-or-Flight, 2019.

Jill Mulleady
Fight-or-Flight
September 25–December 29, 2019

life and limbs, curated by Anna-Sophie Berger
Swiss Institute Annual Architecture and Design Series
September 25–December 29, 2019

New SI ONSITE Works

Opening: September 24, 6–8pm

Swiss Institute
38 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003
USA

T +1 212 925 2035
info@swissinstitute.net

www.swissinstitute.net
Instagram / Facebook

Jill Mulleady
Fight-or-Flight
September 25–December 29, 2019

life and limbs, curated by Anna-Sophie Berger
Swiss Institute Annual Architecture and Design Series
September 25–December 29, 2019

New SI ONSITE Works

Opening: September 24, 6–8pm

Swiss Institute
38 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003
USA

T +1 212 925 2035
info@swissinstitute.net

www.swissinstitute.net
Instagram / Facebook

Jill Mulleady: Fight-or-Flight

Swiss Institute is delighted to present Fight-or-Flight, the first US institutional solo exhibition by Swiss-Uruguayan artist Jill Mulleady. Drawing on the history of SI’s location at 38 St Marks Pl, originally built in 1954 as a bank, Mulleady has created a group of new, interrelated works that weave a speculative allegorical fiction. Centered on a monumental painting, Fight-or-Flight roots out fantasies, motivations and fears hidden in the building’s walls in order to depict a mythological landscape of polarization and crisis. The physiological stress responses of the exhibition’s title are enacted by a number of animals and characters in Mulleady’s paintings and woodcuts, who either adopt extreme or violent survival methods, or retreat into isolation. 

The exhibition’s central painting, A Fantasy of Transcendence and a Preoccupation with Downfall and Ruin (2019), features a giant figure in repose on a small island: a Colossus continuous with his environment. Water runs between his clawlike feet to create waterfalls that spill over the cliffs, while his long hair tumbles towards the mouth of a cave. Collapsing a number of time periods onto the canvas, the painting draws on 16th century sources preoccupied by fantasies of physical magnitude and lands of rest and relaxation free from labor, as seen in Pieter Bruegel The Elder’s The Land of Cockaigne (1567) or in scenes of François Rabelais’s epic satire, The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel (c. 1532–1564). With its stylized landscape and lysergic sky, the painting pushes those narratives through a more recent painterly history of Post-impressionism and Expressionism, towards the posthuman futures suggested by a tablet with three-dimensional graphics and the figure’s unnervingly glowing eyes. Fenced in, stupefied, birdwatching, the giant is an emblem of the power, control and privacy afforded by the hoarding of resources.

Woodcuts and other painted elements introduce another set of characters: aggressive rats as survivalists who live in the remains of destroyed infrastructures, embodying a desperate fight for life in these diminished zones. In a series of woodcuts on Swiss Institute’s second floor, four rats fly over an urban landscape riding horses, vermin as contemporary harbingers of apocalypse. Ancient mythologies are reanimated in the exhibition with an enduring, twisted force. And yet, opposed and extreme, the characters in Mulleady’s feverish works also point to futures in which beings are pushed into marginal spaces, suggesting an ominous threat at civilization’s center.

Jill Mulleady: Fight-or-Flight is made possible in part with generous support from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Robert Lehman Foundation. SI would like to thank the Jill Mulleady Exhibition Circle: Murray Abramson, Freedman Fitzpatrick Los Angeles / Paris, Galerie Neu, and Catherine Pettigas; and Sister City as Hotel Sponsor.

life and limbs
Swiss Institute Annual Architecture and Design Series
Curated by Anna-Sophie Berger

Including works by Arakawa and Madeline Gins, Lutz Bacher, Günter Brus, Sarah Charlesworth, COBRA, Moyra Davey, Manfred Deix, Gina Folly, Nathaniel Goldberg/Inge Grognard, Lyle Ashton Harris, Benjamin Hirte, Birgit Jürgenssen, Marc Kokopeli, Nicolas de Larmessin, Tobias Madison, Till Megerle, Johnny Moke for Adeline André, Moschino, Ebecho Muslimova, Kayode Ojo, Meret Oppenheim, Walter Pichler, Lucia Elena Průša, Diamond Stingily, Marija Tavčar, Rosemarie Trockel, Heimo Zobernig

life and limbs is the fourth exhibition in Swiss Institute’s Architecture and Design Series, curated by Austrian artist Anna-Sophie Berger. Considering corporeality as a primary concern for design, Berger here assembles a group of works that register the body as a habitat that can be imaginatively stretched, altered, modified, adorned, replicated or destroyed. Including works from a variety of disciplines, movements and periods, Berger takes as a starting point two designs for necklaces by the Swiss surrealist Meret Oppenheim: one resembling a baby’s legs wrapped around a neck, and the other featuring a pendant with a grinning toothy mouth smoking a cigarette, designed to hang at the softest part of the throat. Combining morbid humor with glee, vulnerability with threat, life with limbs, the drawings represent prevailing concerns within Berger’s art practice and the constellation of works in this exhibition.

Berger originally trained in fashion and has explored issues of protection and care—as they might refer to clothing, housing, public space and law—in her work as an artist. The exhibition’s emphasis on risk, alluded to in its title, relates to the idea that the human body, as Jean Paul Sartre described it, symbolizes “our defenseless state as objects,” and that getting dressed means to camouflage this fact: “to claim the right of seeing without being seen; that is, to be pure subject.”(1)

Simultaneously, Berger often invokes transgressive figures such as fools, jesters, and artists who test social boundaries or are given license through states of exception such as carnivals, costumes and theater, and the design tradition of the grotesque. Such themes are synthesized in the seventeenth century engravings of Nicolas de Larmessin named Costumes of the Trades, in which the professions become wearable garments. An architect’s apparel is constructed from pillars and bricks, while a confectioner’s dress is made from decorative boxes of almonds and chocolates, so that the bodies become hybridized into buildings or foodstuffs.

Like these figures, each work in the exhibition troubles the limits of what a body can consume, process, reach and become, from the metamorphosis that comes from wearing a garment to complete transfigurations into surreal, new beings.

(1) Sartre, Jean-Paul, and Hazel E. Barnes. Being and Nothingness: an Essay in Phenomenological Ontology. (New York: Washington Square Press 1992), 289.

SI gratefully acknowledges the support of the Vienna Tourist Board as Presenting Partner of life and limbs. Generous support is provided by the Federal Chancellery Republic of Austria, the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, the SI Architecture & Design Council, and Sister City as Hotel Sponsor. 

 

SI ONSITE
New works by: Mathis Altmann, Cooper Jacoby, Christof Nüssli, Meret Oppenheim and TELFAR

SI ONSITE is a series of semi-permanent works and installations exhibited in non-gallery spaces of the building. In the reception area, reading room, stairways, hallways, roof, elevator and other interstitial spaces, artists have contributed to the daily life of the building with artworks in the form of plants, scents, curtains, murals, clothing, seating, a visitor survey and more.

 

Also on view

SI OFFSITE | Michael Wang: Extinct in New York
at LMCC Art Center on Governors Island
110 Andes Rd, New York, NY 10004
Hours: Thursday–Sunday 12–5pm

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Fight-or-Flight
life and limbs, curated by Anna-Sophie Berger
New SI ONSITE Works
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