Palmette à la Montreuili is the centerpiece installation of Mia
Marfurts 2019 same-named exhibition at ACRUSH Zurich. The installation
stands in a 100 m2 square, white and brigth lit space. One of the four
walls that defines the space carries 5 paintings, the adjacent wall a
framed large ink drawing. Under the center-piece, yellow and magenta
water sausages cross each other‘s path. Can we talk about the
paintings first, they seem to dominate the show?
I know the paintings are real and very present, but they were finished
last Saturday, so they are still fading into my reality and will
continue doing so for some weeks to come. Don‘t get me wrong, I like
them a lot and I worked on many versions of them for the past year,
but only digitally on my laptop and some tests here an there.
M: I liked the idea of having the paintings floating on the pattern,
so the whole wall could have been like that. The pattern is code for
‚transparency‘ in the digital age. Today the artist may start with a
white canvas, but she might also choose a transparent one, if she
works for example in Photoshop, as I do. I also experienced the famous
constriction of the white canvas. A transparent canvas makes it easier
for me at least.
M: It is more about the paintings. A white wall can be as constricting
as a white canvas. The chequered background references to that fading
into my realty I just described.
A: Can you say something about the development process of the
M: It all started with a first group of paintings in 2013. Back then I
had to digitally sign for the first time at my local post office to
receive a parcel. A week later I signed again on the same counter for
a wacom tablet, a human machine interface that precisely detects your
movement with a pen. Similar to the one at the post office just a
little bigger. I did a bunch of signature paintings, so I basically
just signed on the wacom tablet and transfered all the information to
a big plotter with a brush lousy attached. Very improvised but it
worked. The plotter scaled the gesture up and instead of feeling like
a giant, I felt like a ant with a tiny hand doing such small
signatures in comparison. They became more abstract than I thought,
just by scale.
A: I never saw the signature paintings?
M: No one really did and they don‘t exist anymore. They worked more as
a transition to what I describe as my personal involvement with
caligraphy and technology. I saw a documentation on signature machines
like Polygraph or Autopen used by a good amount of Presidents and
CEO‘s. Or the mechanical signing contraption build by the Swiss watch
maker Pierre Jaquet-Droz in 1738. The wacom tablet records your
gesture in highest detail, I scribbled and drew a lot of random lines,
then started to delete let‘s say two hundred Bézier points out of a
thousand, building straight lines in the middle of a gesture.
Mirorring, slightly scale and versioning some parts of each gesture.
Keeping the origial ductus intact, but also abstracting it in
reference to straight forward xyz coordinates.
A: Those are the works you showed 2014 in Fribourg at WallRiss and
developed furter for the ‚Superior Props‘ Show in 2015 at 1857 in
Oslo. I think the drawing on the wall is also from that time.
A: What can you say about the new series?
M: I was interested in fat lines, so they do not any longer qualify as
lines but become areas. Layering, use of different techniques, quality
of textures and gloss grades.
A: Can you tell me how they are done?
M: Three techniques are involved. Silkscreen printing, digital
printing and the plotter with a real brush. Each of the five paintings
has a digital original that can be traced back to my wacome gestures
and was then adopted to the real canvas. Each of the five works has a
different process sequence, following pure instinct.
A: About the center-piece that also gave the title to your show
‚Palmette à la Montreuli‘. I googled it, it is a term for a fruit
M: Alexis Lepère revolutionized fruit breeding in the 1830ies with new
cuts and tree education, espcially for peaches. He went as far as to
write ‚Napoleon‘ with espalier trees and possibly delivered the best
peaches ever to the French court. I am intregued by the human
compulsion to dominate nature. Trying to optimize nature for your own
good. Manipulate the one thing of such great complexity that created
our sheer existence. The paradox of optimizing perfection. Palmette à
la Montreuil works as a modular system. A fennel and an orange were
scanned and milled out of aluminum in a way that they can work as a
connector to join construction wood. Like a scaffolding system. I
set-up one possible of many versions, I can also imagine additional
fruits and vegetables joining the structure.
M: Indefinite sounds definitely too big. I could imagine a structure
in a garden of 8 to 16 connectors maybe? Good would be to see it
terdrilled by wild plants, worn down by the weather, maybe building a
pergola. Or the beams could support gardning tools or a collection of
kids toys. I also like the idea that you could add parts or remove
some over time.
A: Does it work as critque that humandkind should pay more attention
M: No, I definitely think that we should take better care of nature,
but the work is not about that. One aspect maybe, why not. But there
are many other layers playing into it. My works are always about a lot
of things, therefore it is also complicated to talk about them. They
also develop over time. I see aspects in earlier works that only now
come to light. In the end I always listen to my gut. Maybe the work is
about awareness, a wooden construction beam is often made out of
different trees, glued together. Or how does a fennel look before it
gets cut into the shape we know? The paradox that we want to dominate
natural systems in general, how everything is connected, depending on
A: That‘s also what the water sausages are about no? You titled them
Acqua Felice, like the famous Roman Aqueduct.
M: Yes, taming water or nature plays clearly into this work. Or
painting, I used Epson Ultra Chrome ink to dye them, as I did for the
Oslo drawings. I like the idea of more physical gestures in space.
Like using a fat 3D paint brush. But they are also just containers
filled with water, like myself and all other creatures out there.
Mia Marfurt is a Swiss Artist living and working in Zurich.
Anthony Threshold is a fictive individual who is much interessted in