A strange experiment, a mysterious research or a sinister test. These are some first impressions when watching Sofie Muller’s latest work. Muller assembles deformed, burned and manipulated heads in different sizes and combines them with medical and laboratory instruments; this results in esthetically fascinating sculptures.
These sculptures attract and repel, literally. Magnetic fields are created by means of small magnets that are attached in the core of each work. Certain faces are drawn to one another, while others pull or rebuff each other. This creates a feeling of tension towards the viewer. The feeling increases by the use of medical and laboratory instruments. Muller experimented with old medical instruments in her earlier work (cabinets de curiosités) and uses these materials to provide direct references to the evolution and the manipulation of the human body.

This series corresponds to a first edition of Psychonomics (Cfr. Coup de Ville, Sint Niklaas, September 2013 and Art Brussels, April 2014). In the previous series, HM025MG was displayed as a key work; the mobile symbolized a challenged search for balance and interaction in a society determined by human culture. However, in Muller’s current exposition, the installation Nucleus Hg is displayed as center piece, symbolizing the existential thought that a human being is fundamentally a lonely individual.

This solitude of relying on our own resources is symbolized by the web of arms departing from a core glass heart which illustrates a collective womb that every human being has in common. The heads at the end of each arm all turn to different directions without displaying any interaction, which emphasizes the feeling of isolation and individuality.
The massive glass construction, hanging from the ceiling still contains some remnants of mercury. Muller, always attracted to old objects (as the daughter of an antiquarian), immediately saw in this fascinating object a paradox of life as mercury’s etymological meaning is ‘life’ or ‘lively’, while on the other hand this liquid is deadly poisonous. In this manner Muller emphasizes on how relative our freedom is since we are waylaid by external manipulations since birth.

The title ‘Psychonomics’ refers to ‘the science of the laws (nomos) that govern the workings of the mind (psyche)’. Muller has a particular fascination for the relationship between physics/chemistry and the mind, more specifically: are our character, believe and emotions determined by our psyche (soul) or by biochemical functions in our brain’ With medical instruments, own blood samples, undefined alchemic liquids, hard materials like glass and metal and the use of polyurithane, mostly treated with fire and smoke, she researches the deepest and darkest psyche of men and how it is influenced by environmental and/or physical transformation.

Muller’s multiple use of scissors (attribute of the Greek goddess Atropos who decided about life & death) refers to the cutting of the umbilical cord and /or the definitive ending of relations in general . But with a similar importance Muller uses the scissors for their healing character of cutting off the malice and the evil. Already in the 4th C before Chr. Hypocrates stated: What medicines do not heal the lance will, what the lance does not heal, fire will…
As in former works of Sofie Muller the use of fire returns again in this series; black smoke often marks the moulded faces as a reference to what once was, a trace of the human suffering.

Psychonomics distinctly marks a new phase in the oeuvre of Sofie Muller. Whereas the first edition of this series put focus on an (anti)social habitat, this exhibition displays work that concentrates on isolated individuals. By using an imagery of poisonous colored liquids and medical lab- materials, Muller invites the viewer to reflect about existential issues concerning the fundamental loneliness of man, the idea of freedom, and the existential meaning of our individual being.