This exhibition by Sofie Muller is a furthering of two themes from the past; the artist’s personal confrontation with the phenomenon of the black-out, and Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451, in which he outlines a dystopian world where all critical thought is suppressed.

In addition to patinated bronze sculptures (some combined with burnt wood), Sofie Muller also shows ‘smoke drawings’. in the gallery. These drawings were created entirely by means of smoke or fumage and are directly related to the sculptures.

In the gallery the visitor comes upon four physically and mentally isolated figures of children, connected spatially by the evocation of an abstract classroom. The traces of devastation left by the seat of a fire suggest this is a punitive room.

Clarysse is sitting on a burnt desk. Her body is fragmented and the gestures her hands make in the void speak of impotence and resistance. In terms of mental processes, a ‘black-out’ refers to a temporary disturbance of the brain, which in a general sense is defined as a gap in the consciousness or memory. Adolescents regularly suffer from this when they fear failure.

Jonas is hanging by his jacket from a hook high on the wall so that he is deprived of all his freedom of movement.

Brandt, the third protagonist, is rubbing his head against the wall, leaving a trail of charcoal. His head gradually merges with the wall. By this paradoxical action he tries to erase the past, but at the same time leaves an obvious trace. His self-destructive rebellion makes him the alter ego of Bradbury’s rebel, Montag, who in the novel triggers off hallucinatory consequences.

The 2010 sculpture Oscar is a prefiguration of these three new creations and is also included in the exhibition. His lower body in patinated bronze transitions into a torso of burnt wood. As a victim of the abuse of power and repression, he represents the traumatic nature of existence. The four figures shown here embody the fragile position of anyone caught between the prevailing norm and the desire for individual freedom, a topic that regularly recurs in Sofie Muller’s oeuvre.

Text Stef Van Bellingen Translation Gregory Ball