Sali Muller – Luxembourg
THE WORLD BEHIND THE MIRRORS
Curatorial Assistant , IKOB, Museum of Contemporary Art
Sali Muller tends to obscure the view onto her objects, something which causes me as a viewer to turn my attention back onto myself and to examine how I perceive her works through the applied or removed layer. Standing opposite the works, I can no longer see myself clearly even though I can perceive myself diffusely. So if I don’t have a polished mirror image of myself available, then I am thrown back to what remains, what lies behind: in other words, to the question as to which substance I can possibly find in myself, or which instability I must endure in the dissolution of my self-image. The works of the artist reflect upon the theme of vanity – or upon narcissistic disturbance as the extreme form thereof – inasmuch as they do not even allow the viewer to become absorbed in his own mirror-image.
In any case, I must proceed past external appearance. Even if the silicon in the work CRYSTAL CLEAR from 2017 promises pellucid permeability, what results from the material spread extensively over the mirror is a wondrous dissolution of one’s self-image. This ultimately offers me the opportunity to see myself as part of a universal whole – a meditative experience.
The sound of the scraping sandpaper which the ground-down mirror conveys as a resonating body within the restrained sound installation THE IMPERCEPTIBLE SELF is analogous to the gnawing tooth of time, which no one in this world can escape. The recording of the sounds made at the time of the act of sanding summons up the notion of an inscription into a layer (whose result we see) – even if this can only be achieved in perception, which in turn lies in the ear of the viewer. Thus the world behind the mirror evoked by the artist tells the viewer that the past is necessarily relativized in the act of remembering, that the perspective onto the past becomes increasingly diffuse and disparate the more layers accumulate in 13 the memory.
What is past cannot be held onto, and so in the encounter with Muller’s works – and with ourselves – we can learn transitoriness. But not only that: The latent melancholy inherent to the theme of vanitas disappears as soon as we face up to the latent self-image with which the artist confronts us and begin to see it as a given condition in our existence. Experiencing evanescence as something incomprehensible and fragmentary but also as something that belongs to us just as much as the skull does to the memento mori: Sali Muller’s works allow, there where they draw the curtain, a new openness to be experienced.