Critics’ Picks

Drei Kinder (Three Children), 2002.

Drei Kinder (Three Children), 2002.

New York

Claudia & Julia Müller

Maccarone | 630 Greenwich Street
630 Greenwich Street
October 6–November 30, 2002

In their first New York gallery show, Basel-based sisters Claudia and Julia Müller present drawings and a video installation—based on imagery from family snapshots found in Switzerland and in New York—which take up questions of difference, family, ethnicity, and evolution. To appropriate this kind of material isn’t so new anymore, but if the results are this quirky and affecting, then why not dig through dusty bins at the local Salvation Army? Alongside renderings of a type of European family-style menu that freely mingles languages and cuisines are ink-on-paper portraits of people assuming or asserting ethnic identities: In one, two kids in Hasidic dress flank another in a pointy party hat. This idea of fluidity or even arbitrariness of origin is pursued in Idylls, 2002: Under a single bulb in a paper shade, you can sit and watch projected video drawings of parents, children, and their pets. Bright green trees have been brushily drawn on the walls on each side of the projection, and a soundtrack of birds chirping can be heard. The black-and-white drawings transform slowly over several minutes: A white man fades to a black man, a puppy becomes an Asian baby, a white woman becomes the mother of a young black girl. It’s an affecting metaphor for the instability of families, but also how endlessly adaptable that structure can be.