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Book Review: Michaela Melián's Speicher exhibition catalogue


Immediately we can perceive from the catalogue cover of Michaela Melián's Speicher (a still from a video installation from the exhibition) that we are faced with an interdisciplinary artistic intervention in the most genuine sense. A stark black background is intervened with white seams, the cover's text almost disappearing within this strong image without margins. The catalogue consists of 160 pages, in both German and English, that present the reader with an important selection of images placed side by side that not only aim to give a sense of the exhibition but also come together to create an illustrative work in itself, a photographic cut underlining few details within the entire composition.

Michaela Melián was born in Munich, her background as a plastic sculptor and cellist contributing to her art. Photographs, drawings, objects, film and words are all used by Melián to tell stories that derive from different fragments, sources, historical anecdotes, facts and opinions assembled together.

Speicher is a roaming exhibition displaying at the Ulmer Museum, Ulm, London's Cubitt Gallery and the Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz. This work was inspired by VariaVision - Unendliche Fahrt, one of the first attempts to reunify art and the avant garde in Germany after the two elements were seperated by the Nazi regime. There are referrals throughout to the theme of travel and the works came about after talks with Alexander Kluge, Edgar Reitz and Josef Anton Riede of the International Transport Exhibition of Munich in 1965, these conversations are included in the catalogue

Analysing the past in the context of the present creates a debate around the avant garde and its ethical, social and political influences. Melián structures this debate through works that seem almost incomplete, through this she stimulates a dialogue with the viewer who is obliged to invest time in the artwork in order to leave with any real interpretation of their own. Beyond its role as a graphic and narrative representation of Melián's work, the Speicher catalogue provides us also with an aesthetic analysis of the German critic Jan Verwoert whose work based around historical and philosophical contexts has much influence on the artist's work.

A detailed index lists the artworks that constitute Speicher, each work represented by an image and its relative decription. Concluding the catalogue, the biography lists the artist's awards, solo and group exhibitions, monographs and record releases along with the credits for a work that brings a fragment of recent history to the contemporary.

Michaela Melián - Speicher
ISBN 978-3-86560-454-5
€ 25.00
Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Koenig

Review: Valentina Trevisiol

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