Women House: Marks

Blog Category:  NMWA Exhibitions
Installation of <i>Women House</i>; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Questions about a woman’s “place” resonate in our culture, and conventional ideas about the house as a feminine space persist. Global artists in Women House recast conventional ideas about the home through provocative photographs, videos, sculptures, and room-like installations. Works by Nazgol Ansarinia, Isa Melsheimer, and Heidi Bucher speak of absence and the haunting quality of domestic spaces.

Nazgol Ansarinia’s Membrane (Unbleached Silk), 2016

Nazgol Ansarinia’s (b. 1979, Tehran, Iran) work testifies to rapid changes in Tehran in recent years. An urbanization process has led to the destruction of small, low-rise houses in order to make room for large residential blocks.

The artist sees this massive demolition as erasing collective memories forever. Developed through a 3-D scanner, Membrane is the monumental impression of a structural wall exposed when an adjacent building was demolished.

A long piece of fabric painted light pink and solidified with paper and glue hangs against a plain white wall. The paper and glue create a bumpy texture on the surface of the fabric that creates a grid-like pattern.
Nazgol Ansarinia, Membrane (Unbleached Silk), 2016; Paper, glue, and paint, 216 ½ x 65 ⅜ in.; Courtesy of the artist, Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan, and Collection Enea Righi, Bologna

Isa Melsheimer’s Dachgarten/Treppe (Roof Garden/Stairs), 2010

Isa Melsheimer’s (b. 1968, Neuss, Germany) model represents part of a no-longer-extant roof garden near the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Designed by Le Corbusier in the 1920s for the art collector Charles de Beistegui, the space had walls five feet high but no roof.

Directly open to the sky, the room offered glimpses of just the tops of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. On view nearby is Melsheimer’s related work, Beistegui, which includes an embroidered textile showing these views. This work also features a stuffed cockatiel, an imagined resident of Beistegui’s open-air living room.

An architectural model made of concrete that represents the exterior and entryway of square-shaped building. The miniature structure sits on a white gallery display pedestal against a plain white background.
Isa Melsheimer, Dachgarten/Treppe (Roof Garden/Stairs), 2010; Concrete, metal, and Sempervivum, 21 ¼ x 35 ⅜ x 16 in.; Fonds municipal d’art contemporain de la Ville de Paris

Heidi Bucher’s Psychiatrische Anstalt in Kreuzlingen—Schloss Bellevue “Fenstertüre” (Mental Institution in Kreuzlingen—Bellevue Castle “Window”), 1988

An abstract object that resemble a window that is divided into two openings by a central column. The textures surface of the object is painted to resemble wood, but it is appears paper-like upon close inspection.
Heidi Bucher, Psychiatrische Anstalt in Kreuzlingen—Schloss Bellevue “Fenstertüre” (Mental Institution in Kreuzlingen—Bellevue Castle “Window”), 1988; Organic latex on canvas, 102 ⅜ x 65 in.; The Approach, London

To explore the body’s relation to architectural space, Heidi Bucher (b. 1926, Winterthur, Switzerland; d. 1993, Brunnen, Switzerland) covered the surface of rooms in her native Switzerland with liquid rubber and pigments. Once these leathery “skins” solidified, she slowly peeled them away, a process captured in the video on view nearby. She chose architectural locations full of history, such as the Bellevue psychiatric clinic in the town of Kreuzlingen, where this work was made. A place of control, the mental hospital symbolizes a structure of power that Bucher questioned in her art.

Visit the museum and explore Women House, on view through May 28, 2018.

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