May 23 to July 5

Ulrike Müller

«Ulrike Müller’s work complicates the usual definition of the role of ‹artist› in a number of ways. First of all, she very frequently operates in the context of a group. Secondly, in her work as a painter and a draftswoman, she destabilizes the concepts of originality, autonomy and authorship which are so highly prized in these media. Müller shifts her formal vocabulary between the material and affective states and makes use of a variety of materials and techniques. Alongside small-format images in baked enamel, she also produces expansive murals, publications, graphic prints and performances. In her most recent group of works, Müller focuses on the global textile trade: working specifically with rugs woven in Oaxaca, Mexico. The textile industry has always been a spearhead of capitalist consumer production, with slavery-like organized production methods. Müller is interested in these complexly interwoven connections as well as in the cultural transactions surrounding textile objects, whose transport into Western salons still «orientalizes» the other to this day. However, by making reference to the history of abstraction in Western modern art in her choice of motifs and in the creation of the rugs – and by pointing out an alternative in the form of manual, pre-industrial techniques – she connects the craftspeople’s work back to a form of production not unlike that of any artist in his or her studio. At the same time, the motifs used in the rugs are derived from Müller’s drawings and paintings. In a manner of speaking, they smuggle the ‹classic› production methods of these media into a collaborative system.» — Hedwig Saxenhuber, 2014

«Ulrike Müller’s practice investigates form as a mode of critical engagement. Employing a wide range of materials and techniques, from text to audio and video, performance, publishing, and most recently, intimately-scaled drawings and paintings, it moves between different contexts and publics, invites collaboration, and expands to other realms of production in processes of exploration and exchange.» — Barbara Schröder, DF Press, New York, 2012

«Ulrike Müller works with different formats and combinations based on her investigation of conceptual practices and the political potential of artistic production. The interplay of these different types and their combinations has given rise to a multifaceted oeuvre consisting of drawings and paintings, sound and performance works, in which she explores the ambivalences of contemporary gender discourse and elaborates them beyond binary categorizations of identity such as man/woman, hetero/homo. From 2005 to 2007, along with K8 Hardy, Ginger Brooks Takahashi and Emily Roysdon, Müller co-edited the journal LTTR – a gender queer collaborative artists’ cooperative that strove to ­continue and update the feminism of the 1970s in a wide range of genres and forms of expression. The historical period was thus saved from becoming a mere icon, a cult image without significance for the present, and became instead a momentous and moving point of reference. After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Müller (born in Vorarlberg, Austria; currently living in New York) took part in the Whitney Independent Study Program (2003) and the PS1 Studio Program (2004) and has since taught at various universities in the USA. Last year she represented Austria at the Cairo Biennale with a new series of enamel works.» — Eva Birkenstock, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria, 2012

«Ulrike Müller was born in Austria. While working with processes of abstraction, Müller is deeply engaged with activating queer and feminist legacies and communities. Her projects in text, performance, drawing, painting and publishing often take the form of collaborative projects, such as her work co-editing the journal LTTR. She has been included in numerous exhibitions, including LACE, Los Angeles (2007), Artpace, San Antonio (2010), the Cairo Biennial (2010), and Murray Guy, New York (2011).» — Jon Davies, The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada, 2011

«Born in Austria, Ulrike Müller’s work is driven by a commitment to queer politics and a critical examination of the role of art in society. She writes that her work ʻengages viewers in a play with associations: Abstract forms are suggestively flirting with a representational logic. In this perceptual process, the social and the individual are inseparable. Individual, even intimate, experience is entwined with culturally shared ideas. ‹In this sense, my paintings are grounded in the desire to participate in a larger conversation about alternatives to traditional gendered norms and lifestyles.› Recently, Ulrike initiated Herstory Inventory, a collaborative drawing project that invites participants to translate image descriptions found at the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn into new images as a way of engaging with lesbian feminist history.» — Astraea ­Lesbian Foundation for Justice, New York, 2011

«Ulrike Müller is an Austria-born, New York-based artist whose practice encompasses both art making and community organizing. Her work, which can be seen as an extension of feminist movements from the 1970s onward, utilizes text, performance, publishing, as well as drawing and painting to create spaces of excitement and humor. The artist’s use of narrative, language, and abstraction functions to break down traditional binary systems, creating new options by addressing contemporary feminist and gender-queer concerns.» — Alexander Freeman, Artpace, San Antonio, Texas, 2010

«Ulrike Müller is a Vienna-born, New York-based artist who, for the past ten years has created a feminist, theoretical, and frankly activist body of work that situates art making as means to (en)action. Müller is deeply involved with both language and body as vehicles of human expression. Through her conscious manipulation of both, she goads viewers to critically examine the motives, as well as the very means, of communication between the artist and the spectator, the speaker and the listener. Since 2005, Müller has been the co-editor of the queer feminist journal LTTR. ʻ‹New York Times› has previously been exhibited, most recently, as an installation at Orchard, New York. For ‹The Sound of Things,› it has been re-­mastered for single-channel listening.» — Laura Hoptman, New Museum, New York, 2008

«Vienna-born, New York-based artist Ulrike Müller takes shared emotions as a point of departure for making and reflecting on art and its critical position. Everything she makes takes full advantage of its medium. Different forms of performance—live, on video, captured on or exclusively for an audio track—are built out of spoken language and the language of the body. Her 2003 Vienna conference (‹Public Affairs›), which she developed into a book (‹Work the Room›), was conceived around the question ‹What does it mean to act critically?› – with equal attention to the word ʻ‹act› and the word ‹critical.› After Müller moved to New York in 2002, she joined the team that co-edits the magazine LTTR (initials which throughout its five issues have stood for phrases from ‹Lesbians to the Rescue› to ‹Lacan Teaches to Repeat.›) Instead of protesting what they don’t want, Müller and cohort act out what they do want: a feminist ethics for the present.» — Larissa Harris, Center for Advanced Visual Studies, MIT, Cambidge, MA, 2007

«Ulrike Müller’s works are hermetic, psychologically intense, and sexually explicit. In graphic works, videos, performances, as well as exhibition history, her work is identified with feminist and lesbian issues. Minimally colored and diagrammatic, her drawings are cool and hot at the same time.» — Miranda McClintic in the catalog for the exhibition «What F Word?,» curated by Carol Cole Levin at Cynthia Broan Gallery, New York, 2007