Ulrike Müller and Amy Zion “The Conference of the Animals”

Queens Museum of Art

poster for Ulrike Müller and Amy Zion “The Conference of the Animals”

This event has ended.

The Conference of the Animals is a mural by painter Ulrike Müller and an exhibition of children’s drawings by independent curator Amy Zion. The project expands out from its architectural setting and engages the specific history of the Queens Museum: the mural and the exhibition are located along the massive, curved wall that envelops The Panorama of the City of New York, a miniature city first presented at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. Originally built for the 1939-40 World’s Fair, the building hosted the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations from 1946-50.

The Conference of the Animals (A Mural) is Ulrike Müller’s first major solo museum presentation in New York, where she has lived for nearly two decades. Müller is known primarily for small-scale works in unconventional materials such as enamel paintings and woven wool rugs. Here, the scale of her work shifts dramatically: a group of interlocking, animal-like shapes are rendered as a monumental mural on the Queens Museum’s 140-foot-long Large Wall. Calling to mind cave painting, these opaque creatures hug the wall and appear to be visitors from another time and place, watching over viewers. While conceiving of her mural, Müller became interested in how scale and point of view shift our understanding of ideas, spaces, and ourselves, and more specifically in artwork by children.

The Conference of the Animals (An Exhibition of Children’s Drawings), curated by Amy Zion, positions children as artists and takes seriously their observations, imagination, and output. The exhibition is organized in two parts: The introductory section focuses on the role of children’s drawings in international diplomacy. The rest of the gallery is filled with drawings by children made in New York City, depicting life and recording details from the artists’ respective childhoods. Selected for their period-specific details and treatment of scale and perspective, the drawings in this section were made by children from 1900 to today; they range from the childhood output of established artists to named and anonymous works of non-professional artists of various training and ability.

The project’s title comes from German writer Erich Kästner’s children’s book The Animal’s Conference (1949), a political satire about a group of animals frustrated by the inefficacy of human international conferences, who convene to save the planet. Müller’s mural and Zion’s exhibition foreground perspectives that have been sidelined, overlooked, or silenced and draw attention to art’s role in the formation of political representation.

These projects are organized by Larissa Harris, Curator, and Sophia Marisa Lucas, Assistant Curator.



from September 16, 2020 to January 17, 2021

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