May 20 – July 22, 2000
Matt Mullican’s The Corner’s Corner was an installation consisting of a schematic recreation of the house in Santa Monica, California in which the artist was raised. Performances executed by Mullican, within this symbolically loaded architecture, while under the influence of hypnosis, provided the content for a video accompanying the sculptural elements of the exhibition. As a result of Mullican’s performative interventions, which implied multiple contexts for considering the model, the viewer’s understanding of the installation slips from stage/site to object/sculpture. By recreating an architectonic mapping of this familiar yet distanced location, the installation was meant to address childhood dramas that underline adult behavior, idealized architecture, memory, and experience.
The project is based on the artist’s long-standing interest in architecture and design, as well as in notions affecting what has come to be called his “cosmology.” The title of Mullican’s upcoming European retrospective, More Details from an Imaginary Universe, alludes to the extent and nature of his ever-expanding exploration into subjectivity and language. Similarly, the title of this project, The Corner’s Corner, is meant to refer to the idea of something possessing itself. In particular, Mullican describes the corner as “ground zero” of a room or a building, “where the floor meets the wall.” One of his first performances was while in graduate school at CalArts, in which he destroyed a building’s corner, which would leave one wondering if he has spent the last 25 years rebuilding from “ground zero” on his own terms.
Matt Mullican’s early work, in the mid-late 1970s, addressed his interest in the difference between reflected light and illuminated light, which had to do with the splitting up of optical perception into its visual elements and with the assumption that color, light, and indeed what we view are variable phenomena. With his interest in observation and subjectivity, and the notion that objectivity is itself an illusion, Mullican’s work emerged in New York in the 1980s with his well-known vocabulary of signs. These images, both abstract and symbolic, were rendered on canvas, in printed media, and in large-scale public installations and were meant to function as a way to communicate the basis of our orientation to reality — a universal visual language. This project led to Mullican’s creating, through the use of computer technology, three-dimensional models of imaginary cities. Rather than diagram a utopic locale, Mullican was interested in both rendering and participating in an interpretative and interpreted space. Mullican has turned often these investigations inward, creating a series of events in which he continues to investigate subjectivity and interpreted space by presenting performances (both public and private) while under the influence of hypnosis. Recent projects continue to integrate architecture, performance, and design.
A Los Angeles native who attended graduate school at CalArts (MA ‘74) and a current resident of New York, Mullican rarely shows his work in this country. He exhibits extensively in Europe and Asia with recent solo shows at the Stedelijk Museum (The Netherlands), Marian Goodman Gallery (Paris), and Mai 36 Galerie (Zurich). He has received numerous public and corporate commissions throughout Europe and Asia from such cities as Tokyo, Eindhoven, Lyon, and Amsterdam, where he is currently developing a project for the Schiphol International Airport. Despite Mullican’s scant presence in Los Angeles, his work can be seen in a public art project at the Convention Center, which consists of a series of etched granite reliefs used to form the floor and wall surfaces of the pedestrian bridge over the main highway through the Center. The reliefs show the specific characteristics of the site and the city, past and present, and incorporate, along with Mullican’s own signs and cosmology, images derived from universally coded pictographs encountered in daily life and events that have taken place at the Convention Center, in Los Angeles, and southern California.