Michaela Meise | Cross Eyed
KÖNIG GALERIE | Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz | 22.11.2003–17.1.2004
The title that prefixes the exhibition ‘cross-eyed’ and the image of the cross-eyed 20s dancer Josephine Baker on the invitation cards refer programmatically and poetically to the second solo exhibition by Michaela Meise at the KÖNIG GALERIE.
Crossing one’s eyes is, on one hand, a sign of physiological instability and, on the other hand, a possibility to intentionally remove oneself from the ‘normal’ physiological designation in order to adopt the environment in another way. The environment for such a prefixed theme is, in this case, the L-shaped exhibition room of the gallery. Here the artist placed, among others, three central, planed wood sculptures, painted black. The dark color and the geometric mode of construction create optical stability for the simple elements. But the impression is deceiving. The boards, which are assembled together in corner-forms, stand unstably – they merely lean against the wall, utilizing the balance of power between weight and support, whereby the first impression is irritating.
With this installation, learned “spatial competence” (intuitive and explainable knowledge about the interrelation of spatial structures and balances of power) is taken up as the theme. That “spatial competence” is learned in various stages was psychologist Jean Piaget’s thesis. This thesis was strengthened in the 50s on the basis of psychological perception tests. Photographs of children, who - as expected - hardly comprehend the tasks they are presented with, complement the presence of spatial elements in the exhibition. Josephine Baker’s preceding photo can also be read in this context. Through the crossing of her eyes, the dancer robbed herself of the ability to appraise rooms for their static and reverted to a previous cognitive developmental condition during her performances.
The process of appropriation and comprehension of spaces is a recurrent theme of Michaela Meise’s. She has already dealt with this subject through choreography and room occupation, within the framework of films and performances, as in “Being Arnold/ being Nijinsky” (2001), “Ballerina Diary” (2001) and “Wittgenstein Exercise” (2001). In “Cross-eyed” the theme is handled sculpturally – similar to a recent piece on the roof of the exhibition pavilion of the Berliner Volksbühne. Sawn out of a wooden sculpture that appears as much spatially-oriented as unstable is the word “Nie” (“never”), whereby the artist refers to one of her earlier performances, “Bühnenbild”. On a board that leans against the wall, painted handwriting reproduces a dialogue between Josephine Baker and her mother. This demonstrates an inversion (the mother is being supported by her daughter, not the other way around), that also appears to pertain to the viewers of the exhibition.