Barbara Mühlefluh and Karin Hochstatter

Brandstetter & Wyss

The juxtaposition of various artists’ works sometimes looks forced, but that was not the case in this exhibition. Visually the works of Barbara Mühlefluh and Karin Hochstatter are harmonious; both use ephemeral materials to create fixed points in space; neither can be placed in a known formal vocabulary—Mühlefluh through a combination of overdetermined yet crude objects, Hochstatter through the creation of forms with found materials that seem to dissipate in front of our eyes.

Mühlefluh came to the fore with her 1991 installation at the Shedhalle and with her cushions for public benches. In these works, she works mostly with plaster, polyurethane foam, packing tape, and silicon—relatively colorless, banal materials. She uses the inherent characteristics of the materials as well as the laws of gravity, when, for example, she fills balloons with polyurethane foam, stretching the skin of the balloon until it breaks, and then documenting this moment. Or she covers a Styrofoam surface with a thin layer of plaster, which, according to the artist, is what the artist calls “a monument for a stuntman.” Often her objects refer directly to the architecture of her own body or of her studio as in Hundertzweiundsecbzig (One hundred sixty-two, 1993) which duplicates the height of her body in centimeters.

In contrast, Hochstatter hardly allows herself to enter her work—if she does, it is at most on an abstract level through an esthetic sensibility that greets the viewer from her airy spatial structures. She wraps wires with colorful tapes, mounts plastic bottles to form fragile columns, or covers wooden baskets with colorful transparent wrap, and then places them behind a softly lit plastic sheet that seems to become a deep-red hole. The spatial structures negate all material heaviness, but they have a capacity for weight, like air mattresses. References to contexts outside the gallery hardly exist, and her materials function as a general indicator of an area of civilization without suggesting a specific history through precise associations.

Claudia Jolles

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.