10 Jan - 21 Feb 2009
"The Lunch in Fur/ Le Déjeuner en Fourrure"
Galerie Juliette Jongma proudly presents the first solo exhibition by Ursula Mayer (Austria, 1970) in the gallery entitled The Lunch in Fur/Le Déjeuner en Fourrure.
The films of Ursula Mayer reflect upon and dismantle elements of cinematic narrative. All her works interrupt with numerous loops and flashbacks challenging the cinematic convention of temporal linearity and question the constructions of images. Infused with references of the early avant-garde and architecture, her films also explore the possibilities of performative staging.
The 16mm film entitled The Lunch in Fur/Le Déjeuner en Fourrure (2008) revolves around a fictional encounter in an early 70s modernist glasshouse of three iconic female figures of the early avant-garde movement in their later years; the photographer Dora Maar, the artist Meret Oppenheim and the performer and political activist Josephine Baker. Maar and Oppenheim were friends and collaborators in the surrealist movement whilst Baker’s modern performances were fetishized within the register of colonial fantasy.
The title of the film refers to the name of Oppenheims fur-lined teacup object (1936), which was later titled Le Déjeuner en Fourrure by Surrealist leader André Breton and is probably the most notorious Surrealist object. Together with this fur-lined teacup the three protagonists are surrounded by other avant-garde objects, such as the Picasso’s portrait of Maar, a chessboard of surrealist forms, a reel-to-reel tape recorder and for example the indirect presence of the photographs of Man Ray, recognized in the performed poses of the actresses.
The spoken dialog bends into the surreal referring to myths, the gaze and the nature of memory. In an enigmatic play, the absence of a direct interaction between the three women is replaced by their gestures and attitudes towards the objects, recollecting the Surrealist idea of extending dialogues with objects.
Similar to the non-linear structure of a surrealist montage the film is challenging the temporal linearity of the film medium by alternating these spoken words in the form of single statements, monologues and quotes in both past and presence tense, French and English language and presenting the film in black and white and color images. The film displaces in this manner time and space, which erases the need for a beginning and end of the story and offers an alternative way of reading history rather than idealizing the past as a fixed narrative.
The 16mm film Memories of Mirrors/Theatrical Personalities After Mary Wigman and Madame D’Ora (2007-2008) restages the gestures and performative poses found in the photographs taken by photography pioneer Madame D’Ora (Dora Kalmus) of expressive dancer and choreographer Mary Wigman and her dance company.
The subtle movements of their hands and bodies and elusive gazes re-enact the illusive power of the theatrical suggestion in film, photography and performance, juxtaposed by the structural/ materialist cinematic intervention of a mirror to confront the protagonists and viewer with the presence of the film medium itself.
Both films memorize early avant-garde thoughts, aesthetics, artifacts, contexts and persons. They simultaneously break from illusionistic historical time-language to connect the historic -'long ago' with the contemporary- the 'now'.
Ursula Mayer lives and works in London (UK) and Vienna (AT) and recently had a solo exhibition in the series of ’Nought to Sixty’ in the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in London and was part of the group exhibitions Rooms Look Back at the Kunsthalle in Basel last summer and True Romance in the kunsthalle in Vienna in 2007. She is chosen for the ‘East International‘ in Norwich,UK and will participate in the Athens Biennale in 2009.