MADELINE STILLWELL | Prelude to Never Loving Again | 21.08.2016 | CENTRUM BERLIN

On the occasion of the Project Space Festival 2016, Centrum invited american artist Madeline Stillwell who will show her new work Prelude to Never Loving Again for the first time in Berlin.

Prelude to Never Loving Again is a performed Video Collage featuring the artist Madeline Stillwell singing and performing her version of Richard Wagner’s first scene from Das Rheingold. The first scene of the original opera takes place in the river Rhine where the three Rhinemaidens Woglinde, Wellgunde and Flosshilde, are guarding the precious Rhine gold. Alberich, an evil Nibelung dwarf, arrives and tries to catch the nymphs. They tease him as he tries to catch them. The nymphs tell Alberich that if anyone were to renounce all love, that person would be able to forge an all-powerful ring of the Rhinegold. They tell this to the desperate dwarf because they think he would never renounce love, as he was so lustily chasing them. But they are wrong: mad with despair and rejection, Alberich steals the Rhinegold and flees before the shocked Rhinemaidens can take any action.

Madeline Stillwell plays the roles of all characters: the 3 river nymphs, a greedy dwarf, and Wagner himself. Collaging herself into the imaginary landscape of an urban construction site, the ’stage‘ becomes the street, and the props she uses seem to grow out of the space behind. The artist appears as though she is draped across a water tank, digging up treasures from under a compression pump, or floating above rows of arched water pipes while conducting an orchestra. The text serves as both a narrative of the opera itself, and a commentary that criticizes such long-standing love-story clichés. The work can be seen as a self-portrait, in which the artist explores simultaneously conflicting emotional states—being both in and out of love, both in and out of the process of making art.

Sillwell’s performance work combines dance, singing, sculpture and collage. She uses found objects from the street, mostly construction sites, and arranges them together into installations that she then destroys through a performative act. She waltzes herself through wood pallattes, plastic, sewage pipes, or bricks, and mixes them together with wet pigmented clay. The collages from Madeline Stillwell are constructed similarly to the performance work. Photographs of construction materials or details of construction sites are brought together on aluminum. In contrast to the performances, where she either destroys the installation through her own interaction, or brings together with her movements a realization of the collage itself, the finale act in the aluminum collages is fulfilled through the last gesture of paint carried on the surface. „From the Stomach“ (a film by Marjorie Brunet Plaza, 2016), documents the performance work of Madeline Stillwell over the last ten years (2006-2016), accompanied by an interview with the artist where she speaks about her artistic process, inspirations and influences.

Madeline Stillwell (USA, b. 1978) received her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art (2008), and her BA in Studio Art & Women’s Studies from St. Olaf Collage (2000), where she simultaneously trained in Music, Dance & Theater. Her live Performances and Videos combine Material, Body, and Voice, often incorporating found or existing urban space. Her work has been performed & exhibited at such institutions as Kassel Kultur project of „documenta 13,“ Berlin Biennale 7, Ferenczy Museum, Bazis Contemporary, Wilde Gallery Berlin, and Kunstverein Göttingen. She has lectured at Rhode Island School of Art & Design, Bard College Berlin, & Ludwig Maximillians Universität, among others. Her work is included in collections such as the Deutsche Bank Collection & Stoffel/Young Collection. She teaches Performance as part of the Theater Program at the Evangelische Hochschule Berlin für Soziale Arbeit. She lives and works in Berlin.