Die Gimel-Welt. Wie man Objekte zum Sprechen bringt

Kunsthaus Graz

04-majewski.gif

Antje Majewski, The Guardian Of All Things That Are The Case, (Der Wächter aller Dinge, die der Fall sind), 2009

Antje Majewski, The Guardian Of All Things That Are The Case, 2009

For this exhibition, the cosmos of Antje Majewski’s ‘Gimel World’ – an imaginary world where everything is possible – comprised a total of seven objects, most of them acquired by the artist on her travels: from an exotic plant called Buddha’s hand and a chunk of meteorite from China to an obscure Osage orange fruit from Oklahoma and a white stone from her grandmother’s house. 
They formed the basis for the exhibition ‘The World of Gimel. How To Make Objects Talk’ co-curated by Majewski and Kunsthaus Graz curator Adam Budak to mark the bicentenary of the Universalmuseum Joanneum, a vast museal complex which includes the Kunsthaus.

The result of two years of research and preparation, ‘The World of Gimel’ was not a classical group show but more like the artist’s own private museum. It examined the circulation, classification and discursivity of objects, as well as the possibility of rethinking the organization of knowledge between artistic research, myth creation and fields studies. As the artist Issa Samb says in La coquille. Conversation entre Issa Samb et Antje Majewski. Dakar 2010 (The cockle. Conversation between Issa Samb and Antje Majewski. Dakar 2010, 2010): ‘Every time a person moves an object from one place to another, he takes part in changing the world, the order of things.’

The exhibition started with a display of Majewski’s seven found items, followed by separate thematic rooms devoted to each one. The artist-curator focussed on the individual objects in a series of six large-format paintings which recall Surrealism: the items often appear enlarged many times over and mostly in interaction with human figures. In The Guardian Of All Things That Are The Case (2009), six of the objects are shown in 
a guarded museum vitrine – an encounter between a 19th-century museum and a baroque cabinet of curiosities, between the need for objective classification and personal systems of ordering.

The show was marked not only by the found objects’ geographical and visual shifts but also by references to their involvement 
in Majewski’s past projects and collaborative works. Mame N’Dyaré (2011), Majewski’s painting of a naked woman looking into a huge seashell, was made for a joint exhibition with Juliane Solmsdorf at Galerie Töplitz in Potsdam entitled ‘Eyland’ (2011). That show also featured Solmsdorf’s Knie (Knee, 2010), an imprint of the artist’s knee, which was included in a ‘Gimel World’ room dedicated to shells. The shell motif appeared multiply in Mathilde Rosier’s Shells and Shoes Collection (2008) – a gigantic object made of painted cardboard behind a screen – while Marcel Duchamp’s Coin de chasteté (Wedge of Chastity, 1954/63) referred to its sexual symbolism.

‘Gimel’ is the third letter of Semitic alphabets but was understood as a symbol for the universal. The word is also derived from the Hebrew ‘gamal’, which can mean ‘to give’. It denotes the circulation of Majewski’s objects while recurring throughout the exhibition in relation to gestures of generosity and bestowing gifts. ‘A whole world can pass through an open hand,’ says the filmmaker and occasional tarot card reader Alejandro Jodorowsky in Majewski’s video La main qui donne (The Hand That Gives, 2010). Another of her videos – La pierre, la boule, les yeux. Conversation entre El Hadji Sy et Antje Majewski. Dakar 2010 (The stone, the ball, the eyes. Conversation between El Hadji Sy and Antje Majewski. Dakar 2010, 2010) – shows El Hadji Sy, a member of the Huit Facettes artists’ collective, presenting Majewski with a gold-painted block of 
metal which was also included in the exhibition under the title Lingot d’or (Gold Ingot, undated). These video interviews allowed Majewski to examine her Gimel objects in dialogue and within different cultural frameworks.

The exhibition was coherent in its specific logic, which relied upon an associative 
flow of knowledge between objects, individuals and the world. Besides Majewski’s paintings, the selected works related formally, thematically or via personal association to the found objects and – in the sense of the exhibition’s subtitle, giving a voice to otherwise mute things – successfully expressed their polyphony.
Translated by Nicholas Grindell

Issue 3

First published in Issue 3

Winter 2011

Most Read

Pussy Riot members detained; Pope.L launches ‘Flint Water Project’; Ghetto Biennale participating artists announced
Arsenale and Giardini, Venice, Italy
SoundCloud has been invaluable to the new music community for both documentation and discovery – now the audio-...
The extraordinary life of the late, great, gallerist and collector Alexander Iolas
Various venues, New York, USA
At a time of instantaneous information and fetishized immersivity, artists are evoking scent as an alchemical, bodily...
With her current show at Gasworks, London, the Kuwaiti artist shares some influential images
20 years after Hong Kong’s handover to China, a new generation of artists dive into the city-state’s unknown futures...
‘Klassensprachen’ engaged artists, writers and publishers in soul-searching around the interlinking of class, language...
In lieu of institutional support, artists are working together to achieve a remarkable self-sufficiency
From being citizens to lovers, the most important things in life can’t be professionalized. Is it time for some...
From an inflatable anti-capitalist dragon to the shattered shadow of Robert Burns: highlights from this year’s...
The City of London’s annual sculpture park reveals the complex interplay between global corporations, urban space and ‘...
Romare Bearden, Pittsburgh Memory, 1964, mixed media collage and graphite on board, 22 x 30 cm. Courtesy: © Romare Bearden Foundation / DACS, London / VAGA, New York 2017
Successfully layering a broader socio-historical narrative onto a period of radical non-conformity, this is an...
Trump’s trashing of the Paris Climate Accord makes it clear: we can't be satisfied with art about the political, art...
With a strong surrealist strain, and including a welcome number of female artists, highlights from the 48th edition of...

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2017

frieze magazine

May 2017

frieze magazine

June – August 2017