Critics’ Picks

  • Ingrid Wiener, Atelier Markus Lüpertz, 1992–93, tapestry, wool, cotton, silk, 23 1/2 x 22 1/2".

    Ingrid Wiener, Atelier Markus Lüpertz, 1992–93, tapestry, wool, cotton, silk, 23 1/2 x 22 1/2".

    Ingrid Wiener

    Barbara Wien
    Schöneberger Ufer 65 3rd Floor
    September 7–November 16, 2019

    The institutional revisionism of figures including Anni Albers and Ruth Asawa seems to suggest that textiles have been permitted entrance into the holy vault of acceptable art-historical media. Yet as Julia Bryan-Wilson maintained in her 2017 book Fray: Art and Textile Politics, the discursive latency of textiles and other crafts is precisely to scramble such divisions between fine and applied, high and low, professional and amateur, while rebuking and exploiting gendered notions of making. But a latency is just that—a possibility—until we have eye- or stitch-opening instantiations such as Ingrid Wiener’s newest exhibition here.

    Wiener, an under-recognized figure certainly in the United States if not in Germany, is her own testament to the variegated labors of the artistic profession. Studying textile design in Vienna in the early 1960s, Wiener (née Schuppan) joined an Austrian avant-garde that included Valie Export, and her future husband, the cyberneticist Oswald Wiener. After first emigrating to Berlin in 1969, the Wieners took up residence in the Yukon’s Dawson City in 1984, running a café and lodgings for gold diggers. Textiles, as documents both private and collective, here gather oblique connotations of biography, craft, domesticity, and entrepreneurship. Atelier Markus Lüpertz, 1992–93, a work of wool, cotton, and silk, for example, remotivates the sundry imagery of the titular Neoexpressionist: Corvids and squirrels bounce over a piano through a carefully delineated weft-and-warp pattern. The dreamy motifs seem personal but not totally idiosyncratic, citational but not simulacral. Might textiles articulate the imagistic unconscious of consumer culture more than Euro-American Pop painting ever could? The Holy See of Whitehouse Cabins, 2003, even manages to suggest a distanced masculinism within Gerhard Richter’s reified still lifes.

    The large-scale installation Norden, 2010–12, expands an imagined scene of quotidian weaving into a broader, archaeological travelogue. On one wall, Wiener has hung the ready-made leather shirt of Lincoln Ellsworth—one of the first explorers to traverse the North Pole by plane—and in a vitrine in the gallery’s center she has compiled imagery based on his travels. These images culminate in another wall tapestry with depictions of Ellsworth’s garment and various Alaskan vistas. The performatively collagic nature of tapestries, like that of quilts, opens the border of the home to memory, identification, and a touch of the geopolitical. Maybe textiles were too capacious for establishment inclusion, after all.

  • View of “Claude Mirrors: Victor Man, Jill Mulleady, Issy Wood,” 2019.

    View of “Claude Mirrors: Victor Man, Jill Mulleady, Issy Wood,” 2019.

    “Claude Mirrors: Victor Man, Jill Mulleady, Issy Wood”

    Schinkel Pavillon
    Oberwallstrasse 1
    September 11–December 15, 2019

    This group show is named after the tinted, convex pocket mirrors favored by British landscape painters from the eighteenth century: Claude mirrors. Reflected through the black glass, a surrounding scene would appear in distilled color with a softened focus and a framed perspective. The tool was popular with travelers and artists, notably the originator of the picturesque genre, Reverend William Gilpin, who advocated for its results, which he called akin to “the visions of the imagination” and “the brilliant landscapes of a dream.”

    Gilpin’s praise could be repurposed to describe the visions exhibited at Schinkel Klause—the basement space within the eccentric, octagonal Schinkel Pavillon—where hallucinatory and allegorical landscapes conjured from the imaginations of Victor Man, Jill Mulleady, and Issy Wood are staged in dialogue. But there is no high color here—rather, there are murky bruises of green and gray, black and blue, rendered in oil paint on canvas, linen, velvet, and even the furry pelt of a skinned rodent. Wood’s canvases depict aliens alongside classical sphinxes, blurring classical antiquity and science fiction into one uneasy temporality.

    Mulleady’s theatrical figures are possessed, too. In the viridescent The Green Room, I, 2017, the protagonist flails his arms, spilling his drink, as if engaged in an occult ritual or visitation. And in Man’s works, his characters have quite literally lost their heads—severed and placed tenderly on anonymous laps, as in The Chandler, 2018, or missing completely, replaced with architectural details on top of impenetrable, latex-clad bodies, as in Untitled, 2015. Charged with the semiotics of surrealism, the uncanny images linger.

  • View of “Selbstbildnis,” 2019.

    View of “Selbstbildnis,” 2019.

    “Selbstbildnis”

    Société
    Genthiner Strasse 36

    “SELBSTBILDNIS”
    Berlin
    September 12–October 25

    “Selbstbildnis” examines the evolution of self-portraiture from the 1970s to today. While most of the artworks in the exhibition are pulled from the gallery’s roster of contemporary artists—Trisha Baga, Petra Cortright, and Ned Vena, among others—the exhibition’s selection of historical works weaves a thread that is meditative rather than disputative. That all the 1970s works by women are photographic pinpoints the exhilarating moment that women turned to the medium—indexically physical and inherently surreal—to pave new, radical modes of self-description. Hannah Wilke and Francesca Woodman’s enchanting black-and-white photographs of their bodies interacting with sexually clichéd props—including a pistol, high heels, and suspenders—invert the male gaze; in So Help Me Hannah, 1978, Wilke actually is ascending a staircase. More penetrative than her second-wave predecessors, the immediate, casual camcorder in Tracey Emin’s CV Cunt Vernacular, 1997, travels through her messy apartment while she recites her sexual history, turning the everyday into an allegory of a narcissistic journey.

    The curators have left the sequencing of the six-room show open-ended, but also the interpretations, letting viewers spark their own reconsiderations of self-portraiture through juxtapositions. A charming if blunt figurative equivalence, for instance, is made between Wolfgang Tillmans’s photograph of a male nude crawling in chiaroscuro along a sea coast (Animalistique, 2017) and Jeanette Mundt’s oil painting of a woman on all fours confined in a Baconesque cage (Climbing, 2019). In the same room, Kaspar Müller’s investigation into spiritual decora glittering, rhinestoned Mandala, 2019—is installed near On Kawara’s systematic idiosyncrasy in the “Today” series canvas July 9, 1981. Various abstractions of both the self and its depictive mechanisms clash, brushing up, too, against the idea of an immanent identity to which one is destined, obliged, and enlisted.