Matt Mullican: Christine Burgin Gallery

By Pasquariello, Lisa | Artforum International, April 2006 | Go to article overview

Matt Mullican: Christine Burgin Gallery


Pasquariello, Lisa, Artforum International


In 1925, reflecting in "An Autobiographical Study" on the hypnotic treatment that he had abandoned in his clinical practice years before, Sigmund Freud wrote that the method had nonetheless proved to be an "immense help," in select cases, "by widening the field of the patient's consciousness and putting within his reach knowledge which he did not possess in his waking life." The persona conjured in Matt Mullican's recent installation at Christine Burgin Gallery, Five Suitcases of Love, Truth, Work and Beauty, 2005--a figure whose emergence was precipitated by Mullican's performances while under hypnosis--also seems to be sorely in need of some knowledge, though perhaps not of the type that Freud had in mind.

This character, whom Mullican has elsewhere labeled "that person," is nameless, genderless (the artist uses the masculine pronoun when discussing him for the sake of convenience), and ageless, though he first surfaced in the late 1970s. Both flibbertigibbet and savant, "that person" is an obsessive draftsman, and for this show he used black paint to cover dozens of pages of white graph paper with text and images. These drawings were attached in grids to white cotton bedsheets that hung on the walls and draped down from the ceiling, refashioning the gallery space as an immersive chamber that might have inspired the somnambulistic state of their maker--if the work did not so plainly bespeak a damaged, dissociated subjectivity.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

What "that person" seems to require is information, and while earlier considerations of various epistemological codes have seen Mullican employ cosmological diagrams, architectural models, and pictographic symbols, the data on view here are at once less arcane and more idiosyncratic. …

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