From today, Monday, May 30,2016 until June 3 you can visit the “Electric Ladyland” by Munich based artist Michaela Melián for free. The exhibition remains at the Lenbachhaus until June 12.
Melián (b. 1956) has a long-standing relationship with Lenbachhaus. She has contributed to several temporary exhibitions at the museum, which holds a number of her works in its collection. Munich audiences may be acquainted with her work through projects at local institutions and in public settings; her work has also be presented in national and international shows. Lenbachhaus now mounts her first solo exhibition at a museum in Munich. A visual artist and musician, Melián has been professor of time-based media at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg (HFBK) since 2010 and performs with her band F.S.K. Her expansive multimedia installations are composed of films, photographs, drawings, objects, music, and writings. They raise questions about the historic legacy of sites as well as collective memory, language, and their inherent aspects of (re)construction and projection. Melián interweaves diverse references to cultural history, popular culture, and social and political life into a complex web of meanings, narratives, and possible readings.
The intellectual and material centerpiece of Electric Ladyland is an installation of the same title Melián has created especially for the exhibition; an environment that takes up a full half of the Kunstbau, it was designed with the space in mind and responds to its character and proportions. It consists of a multilayered ensemble of sounds as well as drawings, objects, and light—an amalgamation of the registers of visual art and music that is characteristic of Melián’s output—and pursues an interest that runs like a red thread through her oeuvre: women who played important parts in cultural history but have been largely ignored by historians. Yet the figure at the heart of Electric Ladyland is not a historic personage but a fictional character: the artificial creature Olympia from Jacques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann (1881), an opera that heralds the dawn of Paris modernism.
Olympia, a mechanical moving doll with highly developed physical capabilities, outgrows her human maker’s control and is ultimately destroyed by human hand. Melián has brought the story into our time by composing a new soundtrack loosely based on Olympia’s aria. She also created drawings that take inspiration from laboratory-like settings in the history of technical invention and physical development from the Renaissance to science fiction scenarios. Melián brings history to life and demonstrates that such illumination of the past can shed new light also on the present and perhaps the future. Exploring Electric Ladyland, we hear but moments and possible realizations of a work that never congeals into final and definite form. Even when we take the time to study its details, we can never keep an eye on everything; the whole remains elusive. The seating furniture, which is part of the installation, invites visitors to linger and immerse themselves in the work’s abundant visual and sonic richness.
The exhibition also includes significant earlier works by Michaela Melián such as Föhrenwald (2005), Speicher (2008) and Lunapark (2011) or In a Mist (2014). Follow this link for all you need to know about the Lenbachhaus.