Mia Marfurt
26 Jan – 3 Mar 2013

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Opening: 26 January 2013, 5–9 pm

Mia Marfurt's approach to her sculptural works and installations are that of a deconstructive nature. An exploration into the formal abyss of composition and decomposition, of painterly values and printing efficiencies, of exposed structures, of turning the in toward the outside and vice versa. For example, in Zwilling als Viertelellipsoid (2012), she makes a constructivist-like incision of air, creating a negative form, a triangle shape, that is perpendicularly cut out from a quarter-slice of melon. It's a seemingly formal study that could be reminiscent of the Swiss concrete art spearheaded by Max Bill but is also inflected with the exotic and sharp humour of someone like Gabriel Orozco. In another work, Marfurt laid down flat a poster of a clichéd sunset inside a glass display, which became a mix between a table night stand and a stool. On top of the poster, a freshly cracked egg is spilled onto the surface, the egg yolk perfectly aligned on the spot where the round, saturated, yellow-orange sun would beam into the evening sky. The egg becomes the placeholder of the sun, transforming the work Horizontal painting (sunset) (2010) into one of ephemeral quality. The decay of the egg's 'shelf-life' is almost as fast as the sun setting. The image turned flat on its side creates a second horizon line, the physical one in the exhibition space represented by the poster itself laid on the ground, and the horizon line within the image, the flat line reproduced in the poster in the box.

What appears as slightly tongue-in-cheek is in actuality a very precise reflection of the potential of imagery set within the sculptural and the resulting display values. Marfurt's main concern in her sculptural practice is architectural space, the relation that a person or a sculpture has to it, what this subsequently means to the felt space around it, the engaged and thus the experienced space. For this reason, her images, as striking as they might be, act often only as place-holders, signifiers, or simply as eye candy to draw the attention from the surface to the content and finally to the end-form. Marfurt turns structures inside out, she builds forms that can be read from every side, she exposes her materials, their production and fittings, she makes objects from marble or granite, steal or styrofoam, that are then silkscreened upon. Or she just works in steel and aluminum.

For her exhibition at SALTS, Marfurt is occupying the two single-box garages in the courtyard of the space. A singular form, a large aluminum hollow tube of 250 cm x 45 cm in diameter, penetrates the middle section of the garage, horizontally breaking through the adjacent central cement walls and thus creating a big hole. Standing in front of the garages, the tubular shape appears to be flying through space, hanging in a timeless suspension. The tube's surface is applied with a silkscreen, an enlarged pixelated copy of a Red Bull energy drink. This particular image-object relationship spurs a range of mental connotations, but they also refer to Marfurt's installation last year at Helmhaus Zurich, in which two aluminum cylinders with silkscreened prints of banknotes on them reference both the financial crisis or a bad drug habit. That previous work, Unity of Two Equal Cylinders (2011), and this new work for SALTS, are part of a series of five image-tube works that compose a complete set. This group will include silkscreens of effervescent tablets, cigarettes, tree trunks, and a Red Bull can. In all of them, the tube becomes a body of projection, and through unifying the scale of the selected images to fit the standardized aluminum tubing size, the formal specificity gains dominance.

The subjects printed—the image, in other words—turns arbitrary in regard to its content but, formally speaking, the colour palette and its faulty printing traces engage further discussions around meaning in display. The tube always acts as a vessel of transportation (water pipes, gas pipes), of containment (drinks, vases), or protection (sewer system, garbage, construction), but at the same time it also represents one of global connectivity and life, from the ether-cable running along the bottom of the ocean to open-heart surgery, in which tubes are being used as bypass channels, opening up cloaked arteries. Electricity, computer networks: everything is contained in a round cylindrical and tubular vessel. Marfurt squeezes the symbolic potential of the tube itself, its main property being that of a blank placeholder, which equally serves well as container for an idea as for a product of industrial or artistic nature.

Work: (in garage)

Deutsche Oper, 2013
Aluminium, silkscreen
ø 45 x 250 cm

Mia Marfurt (b. 1985, Zurich), graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the Zurich School of Fine Arts in 2010. She spent one year at De Ateliers program at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. In 2012, she won the 'Werkbeiträge Bildende Kunst' and the 'Werk & Atelierstipendium' from the city and canton of Zurich.

Photography: courtesy Gunnar Meier