Over the years Isa Melsheimer’s installations, her “dwellings,” tent-like structures and curious miniature worlds in the 1960s and 1970s style, have implanted themselves firmly in the exhibition circuit and already found their way into museum collections. The installation scenes are set up in unusual places, urban habitats are presented in paper-mâché craters, architectural situations are arranged under benches or in little cubbyholes on the wall. They are provisional models of “life in the box,” humorous and sometimes melancholic, into which certain elements have found their way: personal remembrances, everyday concrete items, and surreal borrowed artifacts.
Isa Melsheimer’s textile wall-hung works are meticulous and detailed scenes that are usually taken from the media. Instead of the photographic snapshot, she intentionally chooses a time-consuming, stitched rendering of what is to be documented, as if needing to delay the message’s route.
The project “Borrowed Landscapes,” with which the work of Isa Melsheimer will be shown for the first time in Austria, alludes to the tradition of Japanese garden architecture. It consists of artificially built landscapes whose background depicts mountains staggered in different planes. Isa Melsheimer’s mountains are made of broken pieces of blue-green glass, fragile in their impression, razor-sharp in their materiality. These mountains make reference to the Chinese scholar’s stone sometimes found in gardens or on desks for the purpose of contemplation and whose bizarre shapes were supposed to represent the universe as a microcosm. Isa Melsheimer’s mountains are infinitesimally layered, just as her installations are complexly interlinked.
In LOGIN she uses the arrangement of the display windows to produce a kind of diorama by introducing a second plane. The cross section shows the world above and below ground, the dividing line is a smooth “lake”. It separates an aboveground, apparently clean world from a subterranean, damp, musty world, which gives the viewer the impression of an underground garage with its support columns. The mountain is inverted downward, only visible from above as a crater; seen from below it looks like a stalactite protruding into the underground world.
In addition to the mountain objects in the Projectroom, the artist will also be presenting a new textile wall piece that documents the impressions of a trip to Shanghai. Isa Melsheimer combines the traditional Chinese landscape and traditional Chinese architecture with modern, fast-paced Shanghai and its factories and skyscrapers. Stitched onto this background are a number of flying Chinese characters of whom one might recognize Mao, Central Committee functionaries, and others.