Megan Mueller and Sam Scharf exhibit at TSV Berlin

Berlin, Germany | by September 1, 2012

Artists col­lab­o­rat­ing with one another is some­what thought of as an amus­ing prospect if not a seem­ingly incon­gru­ous con­cept to a pre­vail­ing sta­tus quo of the sin­gu­lar artist’s voice. Col­lab­o­rat­ing amongst any­one in any field is truth­fully, dif­fi­cult and in real­ity, one of the hard­est things to do espe­cially when it comes to mak­ing art. This chal­lenge was pre­sented to Sam Scharf and Megan Mueller of Wash­ing­ton D.C. to come together as an artist duo for the first time and jointly respond to TSV’s new space by uti­liz­ing only locally sourced material.

 

Ear­lier this sum­mer Sam and Megan informed me of their upcom­ing trip to Berlin from Wash­ing­ton, D.C. I know their work indi­vid­u­ally via Amer­i­can Uni­ver­sity where Sam just received his MFA and through the Arling­ton Arts Cen­ter where Megan is an Artist in Res­i­dence and where TSV has a part­ner­ship with our Cri­tique Series. I have seen their instal­la­tions in many forms from art cri­tiques to solo and group exhi­bi­tions. It’s always remark­able to me when a young artist can address a given space that they’re con­fronted with and man­ages to cre­ate an expe­ri­ence for the viewer or par­tic­i­pant that actu­ally lasts beyond the ten or fif­teen min­utes one spends there. Sam and Megan have both respec­tively acti­vated spaces in ways that are sur­pris­ing, thought­ful, imag­i­na­tive and evi­dence of really know­ing the space: cre­at­ing his­tory where there never was; imbu­ing con­cep­tual mean­ing that is gen­uinely expe­ri­en­tial and not the­o­ret­i­cal. Prior to their depar­ture, Sam just de-​​installed a room con­structed out of pink Sty­ro­foam bricks that he built within a project space at the Arti­sphere in Arling­ton, VA. Occu­py­ing the major­ity of the small space, it recalled Philip Guston’s pink anti-​​aesthetic paint­ings of the 1970’s that were inten­tion­ally meant to be ‘bad paint­ings’. Sam’s pink Sty­ro­foam house had the same effect to our five senses. It was an ‘anti-​​structure’ that was frankly, quite ugly and exuded an odor and audio of utter discomfort.

 

Megan’s recent solo show at Flash­point Gallery in Wash­ing­ton D.C. was an expe­ri­ence that reminded me of walk­ing on a bal­ance beam. Hun­dreds of painted thinly cut par­al­lel­o­gram slats of wood lined the floor in a pat­tern that led the viewer through it in nar­row paths that required almost bal­letic abil­i­ties to make it through with­out dis­turb­ing any of the pieces. It’s tem­po­ral nature was refresh­ing as were the rep­e­ti­tion of the brightly col­ored shapes, yet the inter­ac­tion was akin to acci­den­tally step­ping on a bed of flow­ers feel­ing like you needed to go back and fix it. It required effort, it cre­ated guilt.

 

One day after their arrival here to Berlin, Sam and Megan vis­ited the TSV space and imme­di­ately started brain­storm­ing. I heard them utter­ing words such as “planes, points, angles, light” as they both moved about the space in a chore­o­graphed and yes, very inspired way. Yet in true col­lab­o­ra­tive process – and all the beauty of the bumps that occur in this process, there were dis­sent­ing con­ver­sa­tions that proved to be, in the end, enlightening.

 

Out­side In is an instal­la­tion that is respond­ing to their col­lab­o­ra­tive vision of bring­ing what they’ve briefly encoun­tered here in Berlin from the exte­rior envi­ron­ment, and mak­ing some kind of order and con­nec­tion with their expe­ri­ences from within this new space. Tak­ing advan­tage of the light from the win­dows, ceil­ing lights and the white of the floor, ceil­ing and walls, Sam chose a mate­r­ial called raf­fia to redi­rect the light from a lamp post on the street to the win­dow and then to anchored points on the floor. Raf­fia is a thin plas­tic string that is reflec­tive and strong that glis­tens when pulled taut. Drawn from one light source to another, it lit­er­ally cre­ates the illu­sion of the light cours­ing through its sinewy veins that recalls the strength of a real light beam. Megan’s process involved grab­bing and rip­ping out old wheat pasted posters from the walls of the streets of Berlin that became an action oppo­site of tag­ging – a per­va­sive and iconic form of expres­sion that many asso­ciate with Berlin. From these posters, Megan has care­fully cut out tri­an­gles and thought­fully recom­posed them into an orga­nized dynamic two dimen­sional col­lage draw­ing that is at once med­i­ta­tive, funky and cold. As with the tri­an­gu­lar light beams of raf­fia inter­sect­ing the space like some kind of cos­mic land­ing, Megan’s black, yel­low and red tri­an­gu­lar quilt con­struc­tions ring out Deutsch­land, or more specif­i­cally, the col­ors of the Ger­man flag. Inten­tional or not, it seems to be a ratio­nal deci­sion — some­thing that Ger­man cul­ture val­ues immensely. There is a dual con­fi­dence in their indi­vid­ual choice to choose the crisp line and focus on the geom­e­try of the space to express their con­nec­tion within and with it. It mim­ics the asym­me­try of the room itself and her­alds its ster­ile nature.

 

I am thrilled to present this col­lab­o­ra­tive site-​​specific instal­la­tion to cel­e­brate the launch­ing of The Stu­dio Visit’s pres­ence in Berlin.

 

OUTSIDE IN

A site-​​specific instal­la­tion by Megan Mueller and Sam Scharf

Sept. 1 – 20, 2012. Hours by appoint­ment. Con­tact Isabel: 015 211 3636 03

Lin­ien­strasse 161, Berlin 10115, www.thestudiovisit.com

 

 


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2 Comments

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