Kat Murrell
Visual Art

Mystery, Muse, and Money

Kaya IV at Green Gallery presents New York-based artists Kerstin Brätsch and Debo Eilers.

By - May 23rd, 2014 04:03 pm
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Installation view of Kaya IV at Green Gallery.

Installation view of Kaya IV at Green Gallery.

Maybe you like a little mystery. And maybe a muse to go with. Kaya IV at Green Gallery presents New York-based artists Kerstin Brätsch and Debo Eilers with new pieces as well as retrospective works of their earlier Kaya exhibitions. The installations are shot through with a Dadaist humor and surprise, a gloss of fresh innocence, and the hardscrabble underpinnings of the intersection between art and money.

The main room of the gallery is hung with a series of monumental, plastic-encased collages. Each piece is size of a small bed sheet, and hung from the ceiling by big metal meathooks. The plastic makes for a shiny covering over the amalgamation of images, text, and putty-like sculptures attached to their surfaces. Stitches of thick, bright colored cord are sewn in like exposed incisions, but the whole of the surface is incomplete. Gaping openings offer a view of the other pieces down the line. Simultaneously, you see one and others.

Installation view of Kaya IV at Green Gallery.

Installation view of Kaya IV at Green Gallery.

This endless view even in this tiny gallery space is apropos as each piece is like a jumbled, rapid-fire description of previous Kaya exhibitions. So who is this Kaya that reappears so often? She is the official muse of Brätsch and Eilers, the daughter of one of Eilers’ childhood friends. The collaboration began in 2010 about when she was 13, and she has appeared ever since in photographs and at times as a participatory performance artist.

The hanging collages are a retrospective component augmented by new works and accessories from Kaya IV’s opening reception in the back gallery. Large-scale photographs from Kaya’s 18th birthday, featuring various zoo animals, line the walls enhanced by her drawing over them. A black stage with painted sculptural parts and two brightly painted car seats remain on the floor like celebratory remnants. The car seats are also sound systems. Sit in one and a 12-inch speaker pulses a bass beat through your back. Seriously, it is way better than a massage chair.

The nine hanging pieces in the front gallery, each named with something beginning with the letter “S” (S is for Secret Life, S is for Stocks, S is for Spanx are just a few), are the strongest narrative part of the show. There are plenty of details to mull over, including pictures showing snippets of crowds and performance works, decontextualized gestures, costumes, and wigs. The text offers a curious, oblique view into these projects. In S is for Spreaderbar, the name Kaya is listed in the ways it is shared by other performers, artists.

Detail of S is for Secret Life (Chamberbag Banana Roll), 2014, by Kerstin Brätsch and Debo Eilers.

Detail of S is for Secret Life (Chamberbag Banana Roll), 2014, by Kerstin Brätsch and Debo Eilers.

In other works, text is copied from correspondence, and this is where it becomes particularly multifaceted. On the surface everything is the picture of creative fun. In these passages from emails and correspondence, the discussion is quite serious on matters of money, gallery representation, art sales, and the economic concerns of artists striving for creation but also compensation. Some points are about business deals gone bad, others a negotiation between acrimonious parties involved.

Brätsch has described these large, plastic-covered works as “body bags,” a powerfully macabre note on the containment of something that has been. However, the sheen of the surfaces also makes them like specimens, a thing captured, shellacked, and presented for study. The works suggest inspiration and invention overlaying the undercurrent of negotiation in back room conversations. Mysteries and necessities are cloaked behind the muse.

Photo Gallery

THIS WEEKEND

 

SATURDAY, MAY 24

The New Still Life
Tory Folliard Gallery
233 N. Milwaukee Street
Exhibition closes May 24.
It’s the last day to catch this exhibition of works by nine artists exploring traditional and innovative forms of still life compositions. For more see the May 16 Short Take visual art section.

 

SUNDAY, MAY 25

Detail of installation by Barbara Reinhart in Species and Specimens at Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum.

Detail of installation by Barbara Reinhart in Species and Specimens at Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum.

Light from Lives Lived
Jazz Gallery
926 E. Center Street
Opening reception 2-5pm
Photographers Paul Calhoun, Barbara Miner, John Ruebartsch, and Lois Bielefeld are featured in this exhibition of images celebrating the diversity of communities and family.

 

Species and Specimens
Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum
2220 N. Terrace Avenue
Exhibition closes May 25.
Eleven artists explore biodiversity in nature and imagination through sculptural forms. Note: Villa Terrace will be closed on Saturday, May 24 for a private event.

0 thoughts on “Visual Art: Mystery, Muse, and Money”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for writing about the Green Gallery and this exhibition (and the mysterious Kaya). I haven’t yet been to this gallery and now am curious and will certainly go to see these installations!

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