Galerie Werkstatt Reinach/Basel, 2005

The latest works by Isabel Schmiga (*1971, lives and works in Berlin & Basel) are operations with a wellaimed incision. The artist separates things that belong together: eye and mouth, skin and dog. No blood flows, though: Isabel Schmiga busies herself with the signs, the image of the urimage, the form, the word. Whimsical metamorphoses are the result of these interventions.

SEAMING (2005) is a graphic installation of countless parts: eyes, cut out of glossy magazines, equipped with artificial lashes. A preciously shimmering colony of bugs crawls through the room on long silky legs, a many-coloured stream, exotic insects on mysterious paths. Reminiscences of Buñuel's UN CHIEN ANDALOU (1928) or the topos of the eyes as mirrors of the soul fly around the beholder like moths fly around the light. SEAMING is the latest derivate from the laboratory of an artist who engages with the multilingualism of known things and symbols and who, apparently incidentally, in an apparently innocent way, attacks the mechanisms of a society addicted to control and even more obsessed with beauty.

WORKING ON (2004) sticks with Darwin and shows the laws of the survival of the fittest: smile, and you will be loved. In this work, the beholder encounters another pars-pro-toto, the mouth, detached from the usual surroundings of the photographed face. Shiny red lips speak of temptation and other things: "Among humans, it is customarily an expression of pleasure or amusement, but can also be an involuntary expression of anxiety. Many studies indicate that smiling is an innate reaction, as children blind from birth, and even human foetuses smile. Among animals, the exposure of teeth, which may bear a resemblance to a smile, are often used as a threat - known as a snarl - or a sign of submission."1 Polished white teeth shine, no snarling can be heard. Rubber bands ensure elasticity. 54 muscles are needed to make a serious face, a smile only activates 43 muscles; this resistance must be overcome.

Birds in RORSCHACH (2004), exotic insects in SEAMING (2005), snappish maws in WORKING ON: things animalistic claim an important place in Isabel Schmiga's work, even if in a state of creaturely latency rather than as an animatedly pulsing body. Like in the sculpture GREYHOUND (2005):
Greyhounds live in packs and have a clear instinct for hierarchies. As a pet, your dog will look to you to be the 'alpha' figure. One of the first behaviours you will probably notice is your new dog following you from room to room looking to you for leadership. If you do not fill the role of the "alpha" figure in terms your dog can understand, it will be perfectly willing to take over."2 Otherwise it will run and bolt, with its keen desire for freedom.
The skin of a greyhound lies on the floor of the exhibition space - the inside has volatised, the dog has run away. What remains is the stripped fur: a big heap in front of the beholder's feet, a clean cut along the rump causes apprehension - a hit-and-run accident, slaughter, vivisection? But the skin is not stripped, but rather put on: the only apparently excrement-smeared fur is only a thick layer of poop bags glued together, designed to remove the traces of animal expression in a civilised cityscape, dress of a wolf in sheep's clothing who's give up on his part.

Isabel Schmiga's objects and drawings show one thing and mean another. "Ceci n'est pas une pipe," that much seems clear, the rest remains in limbo. Schwebeteilchen are airborne particles, aerosols that influence the regional and global climate: they reduce the radiation of the sun on the earth, reflecting part of it back into the universe. Isabel Schmiga's works influence ossified habits of seeing by reducing our seemingly certain knowledge about the fixed correlation of meanings and reflecting these irritations.

Curatorial assistant, SCHAULAGER, Basel

1 Animal anthropologists generally agree that the Greyhound - type dog is one of the seminal canine breeds from which virtually all domestic dogs descend.
They can be traced back over 8000 years to early cave drawings and decorative artifacts.
The distinguishable modern Greyhounds are descendants of an ancient identifiable breed that goes back to the Egyptians and Celts. The Egyptians worshipped Greyhounds as a god and frequently showed them on murals in the tombs of kings. In old England "You could tell a gentleman by his horses and his Greyhounds.". "Old paintings and tapestries showing hunting feasts frequently included Greyhounds. (from: