Critics’ Picks

Untitled, 2001.

Basel

Amelie von Wulffen

Kunstmuseum Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst
St. Alban-Rheinweg 60
August 28–October 16, 2005

Amelie von Wulffen’s collages work like the labyrinthine chambers familiar from dreams. Using photographs as a point of departure, Wulffen paints over the images’ borders, extends lines into the far distance, and combines different views into kaleidoscopic montages of memory. As “real” as they seem from afar, once you get close the arrangements seem to collapse into fragments: Suddenly the anti-illusionism and impossible perspectives of the painted sections are revealed. This mini-retrospective starts with architectural collages from 1998 in which shards of ‘70s socialist architecture morph into futuristic agglomerations. While Wulffen comes from a very specific context—mid-‘90s Berlin, where critical-collective art practice and considerations of urbanism were obligatory—these images recall private mindscapes, restoring some of the utopianism that this kind of architecture lost long ago. In later works, personal details fill the scenes: Interiors from the artist’s parents’ house, self-portraits, quotes from Dürer and German television shows, and photographic portraits of John Travolta and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The latter pair might be seen as the antipodes of German adolescent experience in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, with the persecuted Solzhenitsyn symbolizing a specifically German way of coming to terms with—or perhaps more aptly, repressing—recent history.