In her CARAVAN exhibition at the Aargauer Kunsthaus
the artist Martina Mächler (1991) takes us on a tour through the presentation of the collection on the first floor. An audio installation of subtle sounds and fragments of texts plays from speakers and guides us through the different galleries.
The works of Martina Mächler ( 1991) are preceded by in depth examinations of narratives, space, movement and body. She takes a close look, for instance, at the specific circumstances of her surroundings, developing her often language based and usually ephemeral works in and with the spaces in which she presents them.
For her CARAVAN exhibition Mächler realises a sound installation, responding to the situation on the upper floor of the Aargauer Kunsthaus. In the skylight galleries of the original museum building from 1959 we find the presentation of the collection, which includes artworks from the nineteenth century to the present. The sequence of airy spaces and the ominous noises in the ceiling aroused Mächler s interest. Her sound intervention disrupts the usual tour of the collection galleries.
Three audio tracks lead us through the upper floor. Though played in different spaces, they are acoustically interrelated. What do we hear? Who is talking to whom here? Following a chronological choreography a humming and murmuring can be heard. The sound combines with a visual, verbalised dimension in the space: scripts printed on strips of paper whose contents we apprehend as we read. But why are the poetic passages not being read by the voice? Can they be understood as a refusal of the attributed roles? The artist sees the interplay of the texts specifically being distributed over three loudspeakers as symbolic of the multi voicedness and multi layeredness of the self. The voices contradict one another, talk at cross purposes and join again. In the process, the self reveals itself as fragmented, as if made up of multiple personalities. The body is present only through the sound of the voice.
Mächler is interested in human expressions and behaviours and explores the relationship between mind and body. Sh e raises questions of a psychological and social nature which are associated with emotions and mental processes. What forms can ones own self take? What ideas do we have about normative gestures, forms of communication and ways of speaking performed by th e body? We read dialogues about this sometimes humorous, sometimes emphatic ones. The dreamy melodies create intimate, thoughtful moments.
Sometimes the voice pauses, creating voids which point to the inner turmoil and vulnerability of the self, which Mächler marks with incarnations of the monstrous. She is particularly interested in mythological and fantastic aquatic creatures like sirens, mermaids or undines whose voices were usually heard only from afar.
In addition to the timbre and rhythm of the voice, Mächler references the acoustics of the exhibition spaces in her installation the creaking of the glass ceiling of the squeaking of the floor. These become additional protagonists of the sound installation. When the sounds fall silent, we become all the more aware of the presence of the loudspeakers arranged by Mächler: like small foreign objects, detached from any voice, they stand in the room and fuel our expectation of an auditory sensation.