LOOCK: Wohnmaschine Archive

Marisa Mandler

Dear Orpheus,

October 31st - December 15th, 2010


According to the famous Greek myth, Orpheus descended into the underworld to sing and play his lyre in order to convince Hades to return his beloved wife to him. His skill was so great that his request was indeed granted, but only under the condition that he precede Eurydice on the way back to the world above without looking back at her. Because Orpheus did not hear her steps, he turned around, and she disappeared back to the underworld forever.


The artist Marisa Mandler is fascinated by a particular moment in this mythological story: namely, the instant just before Orpheus looks back at his bride, when everything is still pending, still within reach: both a fulfilled life and the beginning of his descent. Just a heartbeat in which all of the eventualities of a future existence coincide in one point. Mandler tries to give form to the tension and energy of these few seconds in her most recent works, on view for the first time at the Galerie Wohnmaschine as part of her first solo exhibition in Germany titled 'Dear Orpheus,'


The central work in the exhibition is titled The Moment Between. It is a large installation consisting of several thin, white ceramic membranes, about the size of a person, leaning against the gallery wall. They curve toward it; some are permeated with fine fracture lines, and their surface is so thin in places that they become translucent - almost transparent. These objects are synonymous with the state of indeterminacy, when one’s existence lies in the balance and everything becomes diaphanous, fragile and vulnerable. For the drawing February 26th, 2009, over the course of twelve hours, the artist recorded, twenty-six-second-long sequences of sounds from her everyday life: street noise in Berlin and the conversations of those sitting at adjacent tables in a café, for example. Using music software she converted them into amplitudes of a graphic computer depiction, which Marisa Mandler then rendered in ink as a filigreed ink drawing. Seeing them, one inevitably thinks of cardiograms: recordings of heartbeats. These delicate lines, which alternate between noise and complete silence, are like a measure of the intensity of every event and the potential contained in each moment of our lives.


Marisa Mandler (b. 1980 in Los Angeles) studied art at New York University in New York City and at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where, in 2008, she received her Master’s in Fine Arts. In 2010 she will be an artist in residence at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Drawing in Maine. Marisa Mandler is currently living and working in Berlin as a recipient of a Willert Grant.


Text: Natalia Stachon