Everywhere, reflecting and shining into the individual and inevitably also into “nothingness” is the “other,” and all the more so, the more one loves the “other.” This is why the nature of the creative being might best be described as the yearning for the annulment of individuality, for the taking down of one’s own borders by taking in the “other” …
Bruno Taut, Mein Weltbild, 1920
In her sculptures and installations Isa Melsheimer often makes reference to architecture and housing. Her work is about non-inhabited places such as the spaces under bridges or stairs, it echoes – often in shoebox format – the elements of housing culture, and in these miniature worlds the artist sheds a critical-poetic light on sociopolitical utopias and psychosocial realities.
In her current exhibition Isa Melsheimer approaches the non-place of utopia and its failure through the specific example of the Glass Chain, a correspondence amongst a group of expressionist architects initiated in by Bruno Taut in November of 1919. Isa Melsheimer’s glass sculptures make reference to the sketched visions of Carl Krayl, Wenzel August Hablik, Hans Scharoun, the Luckhardt brothers, and Bruno Taut himself, to name a few, in particular to the latter’s “Alpine Architecture” (1919). Partly multicolored, partly also framed in lead (Tiffany technique) Melsheimer’s sculptures are about the vision of a crystal architecture and the expressionists’ mystical glorification of glass. These works are substantiated by the writings of Paul Scheerbart (1863-1915), whose novel “Glass Architecture” had a decisive impact on the group of architects. Excerpts from this novel have been embroidered onto long swaths of fabric, for example:
“We live, for the most part, in closed spaces. These form the environment that gives rise to our culture. To a certain extentour culture is a product of our architecture. If we want to raise our culture to a higher level, we must transform our architecture, and for this we must do away with the closed nature of the spaces we live in. This, however, can only be achieved by introducing a glass architecture that would allow sunlight and the light of the moon and the stars to penetrate, not only through a few windows but through as many glass walls as possible, fully glazed walls made of colored glass. Thenew environment thus created will inevitably engender a new culture.”
The German Revolution of 1918 brought hope for a new political, cultural, and social situation, which according to Bruno Taut could best be achieved under the guidance of a new architecture. As a real, political entity, however, the Arbeitsrat für Kunst [Workers Council for Art] founded in 1918 was doomed to fall short of Taut’s revolutionary utopian ideals. By contrast, the letters of the Glass Chain offered its members unimagined opportunities for development. Bruno Taut won over such names as Carl Krayl, Hans Scharoun, Jakobus Göttel, Wenzel August Hablik, Walter Gropius, Max Taut, Hermann Finsterlin, Wassili, and Hans Luckhardt, among others. The programmatic call for a glass architecture that would create crystal palaces that dramatized light as the great “essence of mysteries” and convey cosmic consciousness to mankind presupposed the architect as a kind of Nietzschean savior.
The Glass Chain was, by no means, a homogenous group, and the belief-or-form debate soon broke out among its members. Influenced by the “Neues Bauen” movement, rationalism and clarity eventually won out over belief. Correspondence between the group members ended in December of 1920. The third series of works in the exhibition was inspired by buildings realized by the individual group members: gouaches – visible behind and between threads strung across the gallery spaces.
Born in Neuss in 1968. Studied at the Berlin University of the Arts, master class with Georg Baselitz. Lives and works in Berlin. Solo exhibitions (selection): 2008 Städtische Galerie Nordhorn, Germany; Stiftung Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Remagen, Germany | 2007 Mönchehaus Museum, Goslar, Germany | 2005 Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas | 2004 Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, The Netherlands| 2003 Kunstverein Arnsberg, Germany | 2001 Kunstraum München, Germany, a.o.
2008 Art Award of the City of Nordhorn | From April 19, 2009 to March 2010 Isa Melsheimer’s work “Roedig” will be on display in Cologne at KölnSkulptur 5, Skulpturenpark Köln.