Second-Order Defamiliarization

Thomas Musehold’s (b. Mönchengladbach, 1982) sculptural works explore the question of how to construe and interpret the unknown, harnessing the system of language in a variety of ways. His approach is grounded in the idea of prodding things to reveal their specific meaningfulness, recalling the game of objectification devised by the French philosopher and sociologist Roger Caillois.

The publication Larva (in Latin: evil sprite, ghost, grotesque visage, mask) is based on masks sold as cheap merchandise in discount carnival stores. Musehold manipulates the masks using 3D scans and computer-aided design software. The original is typically not recognizable in the reproduction, and so his creations are not designed to draw our attention to the divergence between them; they are intended as standalone works. In the artist’s installations, the ostensibly ritual artifacts are paired with excerpts from academic writing, lyric poetry, or fiction. The editing of the visual material and the accompanying texts transpose the masks into a mythical context that makes them fetishes for our age.

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