Yasmin Mueller talks to Traction about her third solo exhibition at Maria Stenfors London. In ‘Gosh, I fantasise’, Mueller continues her exploration of the artist-muse relationship in an installation made up of sculptural objects and portraits.
'Gosh, I fantasise’ is your third solo exhibition at Maria Stenfors. Can you tell us a little about the body of work you will be presenting?
It’s a combination of soft black sculptures and dreamy photographs of the one girl I’m taking pictures of. The exhibition is the follow-up to my 2014 exhibition Caramel at Cruise & Callas, Berlin, where I showed black metal sculptures. These were more or less constructed as chairs – some were functional, some non-functional. I considered each sculpture a gestalt with its own characteristics. The installation created different relationships between them. I liked that they almost appeared human… One, more a lonesome outcast, or three ganging up against one.
In the last couple of years, I have also started working 'figuratively’ by taking pictures of a person. The initial idea was picturing or using somebody as a sculptural element in photographs. Using the human body as I would use abstract forms. Then I became fascinated by how intimate a relationship could be with someone you portray. And not knowing who is directing or using who.
The installation takes the form of wall and floor sculptures and photographic prints. What is the relationship between these two sets of works?
The soft black sculptures are extracted forms from sketches in which I play with abstract geometric patterns and the initials of myself and Zora, who is the girl in the pictures. The photographs show her with a painted blue cloudy sky on her forehead or with my initials. In one picture she has a dreamy iconic posture, while the other shows her in a slightly aggressive and provocative stance.
The idea was to tag all the works going through the gallery space like stickers or fragments of graffiti. The floor of the gallery is painted white, thus dissolving the notion of space. Under neon lights, the sculptures appear almost 2D again – like my sketches. On closer inspection, they become bulbous, like guts.
Your sculptures are made of black denim and stuffing, giving the otherwise severe, geometric forms a soft, pillowy texture. What drew you to work with these materials?
I wanted a heavy fabric which could look like the interior of my metal sculptures – also like their guts. My first exhibition at Maria Stenfors in 2010 was called Denim Cardin. For me, it is a material I keep returning to. I find denim interesting as a pure or even neutral material - one could say it is a meta fabric. In our society, it is a kind of uniform, but everyone uses it in its own individual way. It’s pop.
You are described as an 'emotional tourist’ in the text accompanying the show. Can you expand on this?
I think the life we lead these days forces us to make fast and snap decisions - also regarding our emotional life. Being a tourist describes how one explores new countries, new fields, new territories - I think this can also be applied to emotions. As a tourist, you always return home, and one of the sculptures in the show is entitled Heimweh, German for homesickness, which expresses this sense of emotional displacement.
Lastly, what is coming up for you in the next few months?
I’m working on collaborative projects. Currently, Zora and I are working on a body of work together and it would be exciting to potentially show this in a two-person exhibition. I would like to expand my practice into other fields like design, food or economics – to merge and exchange knowledge. For me, it is most interesting when boundaries are dissolved and something undefined is created.
‘Gosh, I fantasise’ will run until 13 June at Maria Stenfors, London WC1X 0HF. For more information, visit http://www.mariastenfors.com.