re.riddle presents Ground to Overhead

by | Jan 19, 2024 | Blog post

re.riddle gallery is please to share Michail Michailov’s Ground to Overhead, through January 31st. In this exhibition Michail Michailov delves into the spatial texture of human experience. He navigates this exploration through the conceptual framework of ground-level and overhead perspectives, emphasizing the dynamic momentum and transitions that unfold between these two states. The space of ‘ground’ connotes an earthbound, anchoring physicality, a limit condition of the human, a level where one’s precarious footing is subject to the forces of gravity. ‘Overhead’ is the vast expanse above, a dimension of elevation, where one rises and pushes away from all ground bases of materiality. Between the two realms is an interplay of levels, a continuum of propelling upwards, falling down, holding on and balancing with sideway movements, ultimately situating us along a spectrum of spatial coordinates, intricate fissures and micro/macro dimensions. It is within this spatial matrix that Michailov prompts an exploration of the physical, emotional, and philosophical implications of the human condition. 

In this vein, Michailov has created 14 new colored pencil drawings that continue his Dust to Dust series. These works bring the ground into focus by recreating its trace evidence in microscopic detail. The artist renders flecks of dirt, dust particles, strands of hair, and mold spores in deceptively realistic, trompe l’oeil style, exploring modes of illusion while gesturing towards manifold realities and the edges of perception. As representative marks of attentiveness, each drawing demands close-up inspection and, ultimately, introspection—the minutiae of everyday life reconfigured as a conduit for existential reflection. In contrast to the delicate nature of Michailov’s Dust to Dust drawings, the work Headspacing is a large-scale interactive installation that inverts a section of the gallery as an architectural intervention and performance piece. Viewers are invited to enter the installation one at a time, isolating them within a kind of “non-space” space that’s also occupied by the artist. Headspacing directs the gaze beyond the gallery’s earthly and material confines, towards the sky, while upending conventional boundaries between artist and viewer, mind and body, intimate and public spaces. This work builds upon earlier iterations that have been exhibited across Europe, including at the 2022 Venice Biennale, where Michailov represented his home country of Bulgaria.

Additional works on view include two sculptures (Self-Brainwasher and Cleaning Pedestal) and a video. In the video Just Keep On Going, Michailov is engaged in a banal activity, on infinite loop, enacting cyclical gestures as both poetic and absurdist markers of existence and the passing of time. Altogether, the works in the exhibition highlight different permutations of matter— from fragile physicality to metaphysical— revealing that the line between ground and overhead is not entirely clear. Rather, Michail reinterprets the boundary as multidimensional, positioning us within an existential continuum that destabilizes fixed notions and embedded systems of thought inherently taken for granted.