Dec 17, 2022 – Feb 5, 2023
Curator: Michaela Richter
The work of Michel Majerus (*1967 in Esch-sur-Alzette / Luxembourg, † 2002 in Niederanven / Luxembourg) negotiates social paradigms that unfolded in the 1990s and continue to influence us today: the start of the virtual age with the increasing presence of computers and the internet, the spread of mass media, the world of advertising, and pop and youth culture.
The exhibition at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein highlights Majerus’s installations as a central means of expression in his practice. They comprise an extensive video installation, key wall works and spatial designs, as well as sculptural models conceived for site-specific, large-scale projects and presented here for the first time. They convey the intermedial specificity of his artwork, his reflections on mass media, and his method of creating spaces for nuanced aesthetic experiences.
After studying at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design, Majerus moved to Berlin in 1992, where he embarked on an international career during the economic boom following German reunification. His large-scale paintings, expansive wall works, and monumental installations embody an artistic reflection on the digital turn and the overflow of imagery that characterizes social networks today. His works express the acceleration of information and consumption cycles and the limitless availability of images accompanying them. Majerus used these influences in a way that implies an engagement not only with general cultural developments but also with the parameters of artistic practice and reception themselves. His work reveals a non-hierarchical and discursive understanding of the image, in which quotations, seriality, and temporality play a central role, blurring the boundaries between the art world and everyday life.
Of particular note is the sense of irritation created through the unexpected combination of different visual languages, thereby revealing the mechanisms of visual representation. Majerus constantly observes, absorbs, and processes impressions of mass culture, questioning what is retained in our memory in the face of increasing sensory overload. Spatial interventions are one of the most significant elements in the work of Michel Majerus. Alluding to art movements such as Pop and Minimal Art, his ensembles enable viewers to become part of an experimental, experiential arrangement.
With his practice of sampling existing images, Majerus challenged both the inflation of artistic expression in art history and traditional notions of what constitutes the value of an image. Through exaggeration, stylistic breaks, fragmentation, and targeted juxtapositions, he repeatedly questions the relationship of the images to reality – shattering their frame of reference or inserting them directly into the context of public and semi-public space.
The Germany-wide exhibition series Michel Majerus 2022 is dedicated to various phases and aspects of the artist’s extraordinary oeuvre, which has continued to influence generations of artists to follow. In five solo exhibitions at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.), KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Michel Majerus Estate, and at neugerriemschneider in Berlin, Michel Majerus’ oeuvre will be honored in all its complexity on an unprecedented scale. Loans from the artist’s estate, as well as from public and private collections, will offer new insights into Michel Majerus’ early work as well as the medial and topical questions posed throughout his body of work. In parallel with these exhibitions in Berlin and Hamburg, thirteen museums throughout Germany will show works by Michel Majerus from their collections.
The exhibition series is accompanied by a comprehensive bilingual publication (DE/EN) with texts by Cory Arcangel, Karen Archey, Diedrich Diederichsen, Brigitte Franzen, and Rirkrit Tiravanija, published by DCV Verlag, Berlin.