talktalktalk opens at Green Gallery
Muller and Madison, at Green Gallery, give Milwaukee something to talk about: Paper towels, among other things.
They hang from the ceiling like planets in dangerously close orbit, these giant spheres with textured brown and grey surfaces. They are aggressive papier-mâché, rather like what would happen if Isamu Noguchi went purely industrial. They are made of plain old institutional-style paper towels. Tobias Madison and Kaspar Müller have thwarted their utilitarian purpose and transformed them into art objects posed for the pleasure of the eye.
A monotone computer voice, echoing in the small room, laments the change in status from useful decorative. The digitally animated narrator, in a floppy woven hat, delivers his monologue from a flat screen on the wall. His voice ebbs and flows amid waves of pulsing music from hidden speakers, in a sonic tug-of-war gently competing for the visitor’s attention. At opposite ends of the gallery, isolated and discarded toys slump over, as if dejected. One is a panda with a posture like a washed-up actor out of work. A funny alien bunny doesn’t know what to make of this strange place.
Madison and Müller started working together collaboratively in Zurich. They have traveled throughout Europe and the United States doing installations, exhibitions and presentations. In September, 2011, they showed at the Lynden Sculpture Garden. Their latest exhibition, talktalktalk, opened Friday (March 29) at The Green Gallery.
As the late afternoon sun slanted through the gallery windows, Madison and Müller discussed their art. Müller, reflecting on his sound and animation work, mused on the presentation of history, the character of objects and how through art they may literally be given a voice with which to tell a story. Even prosaic items, such as the material in the large globes, can be a metaphor for transformation through an infusion of purpose. Madison noted wryly that the towels “are pretty much what they are.”
True enough, at least in raw physical terms. But when the artists reshape their context, the towels shed their utilitarian identity and assume a more refined mantle conferred by the status of art. Gallery director John Riepenhoff noted this fluid nature, in “how art can be animated, and also how humans project stories and ideas onto things.”
Day turned to night and the gallery filled with people. They drifted from one constellation of conversation to another, recontextualizing themselves among the planet-like masses, mingling voices, and curious playthings.
talktalktalk continues at The Green Gallery, 1500 N. Farwell Avenue, through May 19, 2013.