Michel Majerus is a Luxembourger artist who died prematurely, due to a plane crash, in 2002. The main feature of all his research is the contamination between painting and digital art, between the world of youth and the signs of advertising. His work has been exhibited in a large number of solo and group exhibitions around the world, but two very significant milestones in his career to remember were his participation in Manifesta, in 1998, and his invitation to the Venice Biennale, in 1999.
The poetics that emerges from his entire work refers to the acceleration of the language, or to a frenetic accumulation of subliminal signs and messages, as if the information that can be captured were unlimited and as if the rooms where one lives were spaces that can be expanded to infinite. I am reminded of a Borgesian labyrinth or an infinite library that transforms itself into a dream and from a dream turns into a nightmare: something uncontrollable and abnormal, yet fun and playful.
Within his production of varied and polymorphic works, Majerus used signs of different origins, without worrying about making a distinction between high culture and low culture: for his work, the sign was simply something “other”, something “foreign” and not referable to well-defined parameters. The other for us did not mean an anti-artistic “autre” put on the plate as if it were something cumbersome and offensive, but simply something out of context or out of register, that is, outside the schemes of the more traditional canon.
His work reveals a non-hierarchical, non-impositional understanding of the linguistic signs employed, but is based on the discursiveness of the image, in which quotations, seriality and temporality play a central role, blurring the lines between the art world and daily life. Thus the writings that appear within his works, like ghostly apparitions, may seem like slogans, but also titles or word extracts from other contexts. Of particular note is the sense of irritation created by the unexpected combination of different visual languages, which uncover the mechanisms of more prosaic representation or acting. Majerus constantly observes, absorbs and processes the impressions of mass culture, questioning what is held in our memory in the face of the increasing sensory overload.
Spatial interventions are one of the most significant elements Michel Majerus’ poetics. Alluding to artistic movements such as Pop Art and Minimalism, his recontextualized assemblages allow viewers to become part of an experimental and experiential arrangement, and this thanks to the manifest recognizability of foregrounded traces, as if they were clues to a crime.
In particular, the exhibition at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein highlights Majerus’ installations as a central medium in his artistic practice. The exhibition is structured with a set of video installations, spatial projects, sculptural models conceived for large-scale site-specific projects and presented here in absolute preview.
Through the practice of sampling existing images, Majerus challenged both the inflation of artistic expression in art history and traditional notions of what constitutes an image’s value. Through exaggeration, stylistic interruptions, fragmentation and targeted juxtapositions, the author has repeatedly questioned the relationship of images with reality, breaking their frame of reference or inserting them directly into the context of public and semi-public space.
This project, signed by Michaela Richter, is spread over five exhibition venues: Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Hamburger Kunstverein, Michel Majerus Estate, Galerie neugerriemschneider. Furthermore, in these same days, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of his death, thirteen other German museums are exhibiting some of his works taken from their collections. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog (published by DCV Verlag, Berlin) with texts by Cory Arcangel, Karen Archey, Diedrich Diederichsen, Brigitte Franzen, Rirkrit Tiravanija.
17/12/2022 – 5/2/2023
Caussenstr. 128/129, Berlin
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