Mother Sucker, with Freedman Fitzpatrick at Positions, Miami Art Basel, 2017
In her recent installations, Mulleady has explored themes of domesticity and the use of fear as a means of social control, referencing historical painting while addressing contemporary psycho-geographies and the affects that circulate within these. Her new work aims more directly at the thought of a future image, locating it precisely within the actual, present day context.
Using a visual language drawn both from the still life tradition and contemporary science fiction, Mulleady has created a new body of work that activates the concept of maternity to think through questions of sustainability, urbanism and the disruptive evolution of AI (cyborgs) within social organizations. Elaborating narratives that engage speculative concepts such as futuristic procreation and parenting, this work addresses anxieties concerning survival within increasingly uncertain social and political contexts. It is not only the bonds between humans but those that link humanity with a wider material and mental ecosystem that have become jeopardized, and painting here becomes a bold, speculative means of reimagining what, under shifting techno-futuristic conditions, might still make life worth living.
Recognizable genres such as the still life, the portrait and the landscape are reactivated as modulating interfaces between the actual and the virtual: a portrait of a cyborg, for example, becomes a meditation on the affective qualities of machinic life. An automobile interior with an empty children’s car seat set against weirdly turbulent weather questions the isolation and vulnerability of bodies within designer lifestyles more and more oriented by soft control and the illusion of security.
Meanwhile Mulleady has created two sculptural works that address the possibility of a child’s eye view on contemporary art: hung low, a crude and glittery abstract painting on a window glass is accompanied by a kindergarten-size viewing chair; another work joins similar window panels to make a sort of incubator/children trolley inhabited by stuffed animal toys. Installed among the canvases, these latter works disrupt and “other” the overall presentation by implying a more free, disinterested approach to aesthetic experience.
Anxieties accompanying the promise of increasingly individuated and customized confort are channeled via images such as a monkey breastfeeding its offspring over a nocturnal speedway, urban fairies experimenting with ungovernable impulses, and cyborgs becoming aware of their own specific anxieties. Setting up a labyrinthine situation without offering a clear escape route, creating a dreamy ambience and then injecting subtle and not so subtle shocks as the works shift betweens genres, scalemand subject matter, this series of paintings exploits the aesthetic codes of both fantasy and realism, raising questions about an emergent and uncertain future as painting extracts uncanny images from an everyday experience that feels ever more simulated and science-fictional. As if every painting would be a sort of interface revealing perceptions that are neither inside nor outside the human viewer, not quite in the body and not quite in the world.
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