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Michel Majerus, "Running in Cycles", 200. Sérigraphie couleur sur PVC. 500 x 750 cm. Collection Mudam Luxembourg, Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean. Acquisition 2002 © Photo : Jens Ziehe, Berlin © Michel Majerus Estate, 2022
Michel Majerus

SINNMASCHINE

Over the span of a short yet exceptionally prolific career, Michel Majerus (b. 1967, Esch- sur-Alzette - d. 2002, Niederanven) captured the spirit of his time – decades marked by the expansion of globalised consumer culture and digital technology. His large-scale paintings and installations are characterised by the visual sampling and collaging of an eclectic repertoire of imagery and text. Borrowing freely from art history, video games, commercials or electronic music, his work resonates with the frenzy of imagery and information that has been pervading our contemporary society through the omnipresence of internet. In his work, Majerus transgressed the well-worn rules of painting and created unmistakable interpretations of the pop culture of the 1990s and early 2000s that continue to be of unfailing relevance today.

Majerus’s painting installations typically examined the growing role of the digital, allowing visitors to walk through and experience emerging visual cultures in an immersive way. SINNMASCHINE [Sense Machine] (1997), featured as part of the exhibition in the Grand Hall of Mudam, is one of those. Referencing The Man-Machine, the 1978 album of German electronic-music band Kraftwerk, its industrial metal floor recalls a dancefloor on which visitors’ steps resonate. Playfully blending the vocabularies of entertainment, advertisement and the news, the artwork portrays the homogenisation of taste in a globalised capitalist economy. Majerus used the iconographic repertoire of the Internet at a time when the information age was still in its infancy.

The exhibition features several paintings by Majerus, in addition to SINNMASCHINE. Rather than a retrospective look, the exhibition at Mudam specifically points to Majerus’s working methods by displaying archival material never shown outside of the Michel Majerus Estate. His notebooks, his collection of books and magazines, and as well as some recorded VHS offer a glimpse of the fascinating way Majerus made sense of the world he lived in – casting these objects as his own ‘sense machine’. A discerning observer of his environment – the scene of a newly developing global and digital visual language – he recorded his thoughts and impressions through drawings and writing in expansive notebooks. His library and the recorded VHS displayed in the exhibition introduce us to the universe of Michel Majerus, providing an understanding of the multiple interests and inspirations that have informed some of his most iconic artworks, such as SINNMASCHINE.

Biography
Michel Majerus (1967, Esch-sur-Alzette - 2002, Niederanven) studied at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart before moving to Berlin, where, apart from a one-year stay in Los Angeles, he lived and worked until his untimely death in 2002. His work will be shown in solo exhibitions at KW Institute for Contemporary Art; Kunstverein in Hamburg; and Neuer Berliner Kunstverein; among thirteen other museums featuring works from their collections, as part of the Germany-wide exhibition series Michel Majerus 2022. Previous solo presentations include Kunstmuseum Stuttgart (2011); Mudam, Luxembourg (2006); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2005); Kunsthaus Graz (2005); Deichtorhallen Hamburg (2005); Tate Liverpool (2004); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2003); and Kunsthalle Basel (1996), among others.

Credits

Location:
Mudam Grand Hall
Curator:
  • Bettina Steinbrügge, assisted by Clémentine Proby

The exhibition is the last chapter of a programme dedicated to the work of Michel Majerus which begins in November 2022 with the symposium what looks good today may not look good tomorrow: The Legacy of Michel Majerus, whose interventions will result in a publication, published by Sternberg Press, to be released on the opening of the exhibition.