For over two years, Sassa Trülzsch ran a small independent project space in the backyard of Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch. Now, after 20 exhibitions, her program has come of age. On the occasion of this year’s Gallery Weekend Berlin, she opened her own gallery, literally with a bang. What sounded like rifle shots rang out in the early summer night as scores of red disks were released from spring-loaded traps inside the newly renovated gallery.
Afterward, the shards lay strewn across the floor and staircase, and were found lodged in the freshly plastered walls. Invited to expose a tower featuring a stairway leading nowhere that had stood hidden behind a false wall for decades, Alexander Laner instead activated the gallery’s entire main room. While his opening-night performance can be compared with the kind of purification ritual that involves, say, holding smoldering bundles of sage in an old room’s corners, it was less important than its sculptural result: a charged space, in which the clay shrapnel looked like rose petals scattered on the floor to lure a lover upstairs. Indeed, the audience was led to wonder, how can something so violent be so beautiful?
Exhibiting Laner’s work was the choice of Sofie Bird Møller, a young Danish artist represented by the gallery who was asked to invite another artist to share her exhibition. Her own small works, a handful of altered magazine pages, lined the walls in the front room. With precision but, again, decided violence, Møller defaced well-known fashion advertisements by dragging splotches of paint across their surfaces.
The ads inspired the abstract forms Møller painted over them. As in collage, where there is interplay between concealing and revealing, the painted shapes partly obscure what lies underneath. Anthropomorphic figures are suggested by thick, lush brushstrokes that have been laid over models striking elegant poses. The texture and viscosity of the paint are suggestive of naked flesh—even muscle tissue, meat. An untitled work of 2009 (11 by 8 inches) shows a geometric form—a photo of an open, upturned box, part of an ad—from the top corners of which a painted figure roughly resembling a human hangs by its wrists. Splayed like a gutted animal, it is reminiscent of Francis Bacon’s seminal Painting (1946).
Are these works simply an alibi for the hours Møller spent leafing through Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Vanity Fair—a vindication of the right of women to read style magazines? Or are they a visual critique of how fashion models—or perhaps women in general—are viewed as little more than pieces of meat? Møller’s exhition, “Paint the White Horse Black,” gives no clear answer, but ample provocation.
Photo: Sophie Bird Mo/ller: Untitled, 2009, acrylic on magazine pages, 11 by 81⁄4 inches; at Sassa Trülzsch.