By Lunn, Felicity
Artforum International , Vol. 42, No. 10
Since the sisters Claudia and Julia Muller started working together twelve years ago, their drawings--on paper, applied directly to the wall, and on video--have become acknowledged as major contributions to the current Swiss art scene. This exhibition provided the first comprehensive overview of their output, combining series of framed drawings on paper (some juxtaposed for the first time with collage), large-format drawings made directly on the wall, and four examples of the installations that the artists have been making since the mid-'90s.
The Mullers always draw from photographs--of friends, from the media, and, since their 1999-2000 P.S. 1 residency in New York, from public archives. Their source material is therefore already mediated as a picture language, and through their process of collecting, selecting, analyzing, and charging it with further levels of meaning, the artists are comparable to social anthropologists. However, the apparent naivete and dilettantism with which they conduct their investigation into the unspectacular belies the complexity of their search for the subversive side of the ordinary.
"Random Signs," 2000, a series of thirty-seven ballpoint-pen drawings grouped into pairs and threes and shown in the corridor areas, encapsulates several fundamental aspects of the artists' practice. The accessibility of the themes reflecting stereotypes of North American culture, from wigwams to pop stars, and the legibility of their representational idiom engage the viewer immediately. However, the artists' conceptual approach is revealed in the wide range of motifs that share the same front-and-center presentation on each sheet. The viewer inevitably relates the seemingly disconnected images so that they start to form relationships beyond the depiction of the real. For example, a page imitating Chinese script, the back of a dreadlocked head, and a fir tree are connected by both their formal textures and their exoticism. …