Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with the assistance of stART, MCA Young Patrons, 1997
organza fabric, pins
Mikala Dwyer has been creating installation-based artworks for over two decades. She often chooses materials that have a strong association with the body, and constructs idiosyncratic, personal spaces within the conventional architecture of the gallery. Her interest in working within and against architecture and in reaction to the imperatives of ‘good design’ is part of a radical deconstruction of the concept of the self and its objects.
These draped, wrapped, hanging objects and precariously erected structures invoke the psychic space of a provisional identity, like the recreational world of childhood (the cubby or playhouse) or a feminine aesthetic of excessive display and cover-up (fields of nail polish, sequins and stretched pantyhose). Bandaged and bolstered by cushioning layers, they often express a solicitude as well as a radical fluidity and tendency towards imminent dispersal and entropy.
In works such as Untitled, 1995, the loss of geometric rigidity is an anti-formalism in the tradition of the soft sculptures of Claes Oldenburg or the hanging felt forms of Robert Morris. Here the droopy, embarrassed, limp object has been transformed into an alternative idea of beauty as radically lightweight, synthetic and distinctly feminine (or perhaps trans-gender): primped and posed and pinned-together, these delicate blue organza creations are a girl’s night out, not a vehicle for transcendence.
If you’re standing in front of one of those [my] sculptures, and if it’s doing its job, you’ll be getting a bit of an identity crisis with it: you’re not quite sure where you begin and it ends.
Mikala Dwyer, 2008