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Creative Research Lab

SHIFT (MFA1) - March 2008

Kurt Mueller

Kurt Mueller

Kurt Mueller
Inherit the Wind! (installation views), 2008
TV monitors, DVD players, amp, speakers, microphones, transcript of the cross examination of William Jennings Bryan, for the prosecution, by Clarence Darrow, of the defense, Scopes v. State (152 Tenn. 424, 278 S.W. 57), Dayton, TN, July 20, 1925

My recent work attempts to address ethical issues through aesthetic experiences. In room-to-city-sized installations, I invite new engagements between public audiences and current events. I produce scenarios -- a wall of posted ultimatums, a karaoke machine of famous oration, or a mock rocket-based theater of war -- that implicate a viewer-cum-participant in contemporary/historic trajectories of consequence. The context of these engagements, typically text-based, is sampled from primary, historic sources. Their form I appropriate from the familiar contemporary cultural and political landscape. Distant occurences are thus re-animated, re-lived and possibly redressed.

I like to consider myself a citizen artist. My project is, in many ways, continuous with the tradition of the monument. I am interested in the potential of harnessing material to ritualize memory, produce identity, and inspire action. However, I seek to re-distribute this power and unhinge its claim to truth. By enlisting the viewer as a participant-agent, I hope to encourage him/her to locate personal meaning within collective discourse.

At present, my effort has been distinctly American. The United States is the terrain, physical and historical, with which I am most familiar, but also, given this country's leading role in world affairs, a ready target for an investigation into the meeting of authority and responsibility. My strategy and tactics are adaptable to other locales, as my concerns are, I believe, universal.