The Placeless Place
Pierogi is pleased to present an exhibition of new works on paper and two new videos by Ati Maier. The exhibition at Pierogi takes its title from the video, “The Placeless Place,” which will be screened at our satellite exhibition space, The Boiler, on November 17th with a live performance by Vostok. The videos will also be on view at Pierogi throughout the exhibition.
Ati Maier has never been simply a painter. For her, images are always maps that can give rise to a landscape, bloom into a globe, or enclose an entire universe. And while the intention of her terrains remains visually fixed, vis-à-vis the viewer it will continue on its transformative journey.
In the late1990s, Maier produced a series of sculptures that provoked this altered viewpoint. Layered on top of low pedestals were maps and sculptures covered by milky Plexi glass, leaving only traces of the miniatures visible beneath. The obscured artificial landscapes would only reveal themselves to the viewer who looked below the sculptures’ milky surface, discovering the artificial landscape stretched before them.
Maier intensified this altered field in her paintings. The images became more complex: entire galaxies appeared side by side, and overlapped or collided in their animations. Multiple coexistence of the various worlds, or parts of these worlds, occurred. In doing so, Maier achieved a complexity in her images, which brings to mind Pollock’s “Mural” where, even after days of observation, they are not completely accessible. In contrast to the expansive paintings of Julie Mehretu – with whom Maier’s work was exhibited at The Whitney Museum in 2005 – Maier juxtaposes a compression, a co-existence, and simultaneity.
The “space rider” appeared in her works in 2003 to deal with this simultaneity in a non-abstract manner. This singular figure has since become a permanent component of Maier’s work. The alter-ego of an artist, who wishes to travel between worlds in her private, as well as in her artistic life. At first the figure of the space rider easily escaped one’s notice in her drawings, but it has since travelled along concentric circles to a central position in Maier’s work.
In the video “The Placeless Place” (2016) the figure rides silently through a deserted urban landscape, eventually arriving at Times Square in New York City. Surrounded by dense crowds of people and the flickering universe of images and video screens, the seemingly endless looping movement of the space rider comes to a halt – issuing in a moment of contemplation and assurance. Exactly at this moment, Maier inserts a scene from the first space rider video (“The Map Is Not the Territory,” 2013) on one of the digital monitors. What could be misunderstood as a cinematic self-reference is, in fact, one of the simultaneities that Maier repeatedly creates in her drawings: a loophole through which the figure of the space rider returns to a deserted, pre-civilized environment.
Though her own oeuvre may be as incalculable as the American story, Maier is successful in giving “The Placeless Place” a political and contemporary significance and reality. The constantly moving being of the space rider fits magically into the urban environment through visual and architectural references. Only the encounter with the crowds in Times Square evokes a disconcerting feeling and illustrates the isolation of the figure in this new environment. The foreign is never a natural state, but rather something purely referential. The feeling of alienation disappears with the return to the extraterrestrial environment of the first space rider video and the absence of people from the scene.
Ati Maier has never been a painter of one-dimensional images and easy answers. She is an artist who recognizes and demonstrates the complexity of the world we live in. Through compressed, superimposed, parallel worlds, and inextricable structures in her paintings, sculptures, installations, and films, Maier puts her finger on the pulse of society.
(Adapted from a translation of “Thoughts about Ati Maier’s work, 2016” by German artist, Tilo Schulz.)
Ati Maier currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (NY, NY), the Museum der bildenden Kuenste Leipzig (Leipzig, Germany), among others, and has been included in exhibitions at the Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg (Wolfsburg, Germany), the Whitney Museum (NY, NY), the Herbert F. Johnson Museum (Ithaca, NY), and BCA, Burlington, VT, among others. Her 3D video animations were included in the Fokus Bienial in Lódz, Poland (2013) and in “Currents” at the Hardwood Museum of Art, Taos, NM (2016).
“The Placeless Place,” 2016, Full HD, Format 1080p, 10 Minutes
Directed and performed by Ati Maier
Production: Klaus Knoesel, FKK Film
Camera: Timo Seidel
Editor / Post Production: Patrick Saleh-Zaki
“The Placeless Place” was filmed in various locations in New York City: Times Square; East River Park, beneath the Williamsburg Bridge; and Corona Park, Queens, home of the 1964-65 World’s Fair.
“Milkomeda” 2016, 3D animated video, Full HD, 3:40 minutes
Directed and drawn by Ati Maier
Animation and Sound: Remi Pawlowski
“Milkomeda” depicts the collision of the Milkyway and the Andromeda galaxies and the rebirth of a new galaxy, Milkomeda, which will occur in approximately four billion years.