Spatial Practices, Art in Public Space, Site-specific Installation, Sculpture, Performance and Interactivity.
Professor Jane Mulfinger is an artist and curator who makes work that engages in conceptual and perceptual reflections on the significance of human activity in site-specific installations, performance, and sculpture. She has served as Art Department Chair 2009-13 and was Vice Chair and Chair of the Council on Planning and Budget at UCSB. She teaches both undergraduates and graduates at the Dept. of Art and the College of Creative Studies, focusing on spatial and sculptural topics in the formation of significant art.
She writes of her practice, “I collect human artifacts. I’m fascinated by what we make, what we build, what we say and write, and our capacity for good and for bad. I find depth in humility and humor – especially in our mistakes. Capturing and isolating exquisite things and sensations that are normally overlooked fills in what we missed in History. I parse these sites and objects into two bodies or territories of physical space; movement and phenomenological insights, and condensed, still objects of study. By looking very closely, the ordinary is incandescent. It is the patina of human touch, of human action, that I find the most compelling matter to transform.”
Windauge, a recent collaborative work with Graham Budgett in London, takes the unique architectural feature of a round window at Beaconsfield Gallery, originally Lambeth’s Ragged School building, and magnifies the view from the oculus to see what the building has overlooked for years. The projected live image and sound of multiple trains passing is seen from a platform built by the artists to afford insight into the building’s situation in the world. Mulfinger also curated –Scape, a video exhibition at Beaconsfield that addresses visions of infinity in the context of a tumultuous time.
Mulfinger’s early work is recognized as addressing the relationship between architecture, memory, and the human body. Her representation of the familiar disrupts and challenges our sense of site and our understanding of history. Mulfinger posits the sociological, political, and formal/spatial contexts of architecture and history with the objects and text that she incorporates. Writing in Art & Design, John Stathatosdescribes Mulfinger’s work as a response to “the complex, fragmentary character of the contemporary city and the way this affects its inhabitants.” This approach can be seen in much of her work since 1989;Common Knowledge, an etched glass panels installed in St. Pancras Station, London, with collected European jokes in their original languages; I Battuti Bianchi, in Carignano, Italy, that fuses the history of the architectural site with the human desire for ascendance; Armory as Cathedral, Beyond the Visible Spectrum in Pasadena transforms locally discarded red and blue clothing into pseudo stained glass; and The Fictive City and Its Real Estate: The Tale of the Transcontinental Railroad illuminates a specific history of urban decline and renewal in the Los Angeles Chinatown(s) using the background of railroad construction in the West. For this work, Norman Klein collaborated with his essay, “The Three Chinatowns”. Her longstanding Regrets series, (Cambridge, Paris, Linz and Santa Barbara), is a growing archive of anonymous regrets, their collection staged in city-centres with computers on backpacks. The series takes on the nature of human regret, proposing that the concise admissions and reflections are positive indicators of the potential for learning and renewal.
Exhibitions of her work have taken place at Beaconsfield Gallery, the Mayor Gallery, Camden Arts Center, Underwood St. Gallery, London, the Orchard Gallery, Derry, CCA Glasgow, Franklin Furnace Archive, New York, Southhampton Museum of Art, Palazzo Bricherasio, Turin, and the Torrance Museum of Art and the New Chinatown Barbershop, Los Angeles. She has curated exhibitions for the Art Design and Architecture Museum, the College of Creative Studies, UCSB, and Beaconsfield Gallery, London.
Reviews of her work have been published in Flash Art, Art and Design, Contemporary Visual Art, Art Monthly, Untitled, The Economist, The Times (London), The Guardian, La Stampa, the Los Angeles Times, and regular coverage in London’s Time-Out Magazine under the direction of Sarah Kent. Radio interviews include BBC Cambridge, Radio 1, Austria, Vimeo, and Daily Motion.