Monday, January 04, 2016

An Ambiguous Abstraction

“What keeps us going is the questions and not the answers.”
Ulrike Müller 

The Austrian born, New York based contemporary artist Ulrike Müller works across a range of mediums that include performance, video, publishing, textiles and painting that is not limited to brush and canvas in which she adopts an ambiguous stance where her political heart is worn upon her artistic sleeve.

As she said about her 2015 exhibition The old expressions are with us always and there are always others “My paintings are part of the desire to imagine and to practice alternatives to traditional gender roles and lifestyles.”

A point underscored by the exhibition’s curator, Manuela Ammer, who wrote “Müller uses abstraction as an idiom that can be figuratively appropriated, emotionally charged and politically connoted—depending on the context and the viewer.”

A graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York, Müller is currently a professor and Co-Chair of Painting at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

In a North Drive Press conversation with K8 Hardy, Müller said “I think I’ll always be an ambiguous person, and I’ll work from that position of ambiguity... it’s all these things that I can’t really understand, and I still have to talk about them. I have to bring them up, but I can’t really resolve them. I’m going to talk about them as long as I can’t resolve them, and I suspect that I’ll never be able to resolve them. At the point that I’m able to resolve them, I’ll shift my practice to something else... One thing that I understood is that to be ambiguous means to be passionate, it means to be torn between two poles… Both of them are exciting and interesting, and you feel an attraction both ways, and that’s a tension. I’m interested in tension.”

A position she reiterated in an editorial for the feminist genderqueer artist collective’s annual independent art journal, LTTR, stating “Now I find myself dragged out on stage. I didn’t even have time to check my reflection in a mirror, and I certainly don’t remember my lines. If I ever had any. I am feeling exposed and too self-conscious to charm or seduce. Can you love me anyway? And if so where can we go? I want to be taken and I want you to take me home, but I doubt there is an easy way out for either of us.”

Müller’s current exhibition The old expressions are with us always and there are always others is on show at Vienna’s mumok Museum moderner Kunst until the 31st of January.

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