As the second to last part of their exhibition series Speaking to Ancestors, Keumhwa Kim and Pauline Doutreluingne introduce two Berlin-based artists*: Viron Erol Vert and Mariechen Danz present expansive, site-specific installations in the Kleiner and Großer Wasserspeicher in Prenzlauer Berg, in which sound, video, projection and sculpture melt together. Inspired by mythological narratives and contemporary rituals, the focus is on the relationship of the human body to cult and knowledge.
The artists combine journeys into the ancient underworld with today‘s club culture, and invite us into the world of technocratic and astrological sign systems. What they have in common is the understanding of human beings as complex, transcending beings.
Opening: 11 November 2023, 7:00 pm
with live set by Headless Horseman
Exhibition duration: 12 - 20 November 2023
Opening hours: 12:00 - 19:00 (daily)
Venue: Kleiner & Großer Wasserspeicher
Belforter Straße, 10405 Berlin
The Irish-German artist MARIECHEN DANZ (*1980) places the human body at the center of her practice. In sculptures, drawings, costumes and installations - often in collaboration with other artists or musicians - she explores the history(s) of media as data carriers, and questions the communicative capacity of language, common practices of mediating knowledge, hierarchies of signs and the primacy of Western notions of reason. Danz additionally activates her installations with staged vocal performances. In View From Above (a song from her sound album Clouded in Veins) at the Kleiner Wasserspeicher, Danz directs the gaze from the earth to the sky and vice versa. In her ongoing series of metal glyph structures (in collaboration with Genghis Khan Fabrication Co.), punched-out, coded and printed aluminium plates are installed in various arrangements to convey knowledge and information across the boundaries of time and space. Patterns of vents meet punctuation marks and icons from digital communication; stylised planispheres meet anatomical representations from different cultures and eras. Like modular carriers of knowledge, they become a new vocabulary and serve in the exhibition as shadow-casting patterns and reflective media for light that create their own star maps.
The installation is surrounded by casts of human organs: brain, heart, liver, lung, kidney and intestine. Her series Fossilizing Organs consists of transparent and coloured organ models that are offset with stones and minerals. History, politics, culture and socialisation have literally left their mark on these organs. The natural „implants“ set off immanent fossilisation processes in the sculptures and connect the origin of each organ to different places in the world. In View From Above, Danz assembles a kind of three-dimensional fragmented atlas, that appears in the exhibition space like an operating theater in which subjective and objective, subaltern and historical knowledge is actively treated.
Her works Modular Glyphic System and Ore Oral Orientation: modular mapping system, on view in the exhibition, were each created in collaboration with Genghis Khan Fabrication Co. who develop decolonising strategies for production processes in Silicon Valley.
Mariechen Danz installation communicates with The Small Water Reservoir, a round brick hall with masonry pillars and round arches, with its stage-like, visible centre. The smooth cement screed as a floor and the symmetrically arranged flights of stairs are further architectural features.
Berlin's first public waterworks was built between 1852 and 1856. After 1914, the plant became uneconomical for the rapidly growing city and was shut down. In the spring of 1933, after the Nazis came to power, the basement rooms of the waterworks were used by the SA as a savage concentration camp, where people were interned and murdered without trial. From June 1933, the camp was transformed into the SA-Heim Wasserturm. In the autumn of 1934, the SA-Heim was disbanded and work began on transforming the site into a public park. Since then, the underground water reservoirs in Prenzlauer Berg have been empty and no longer used. In 1994, the Kulturamt Pankow and the Förderband Kulturinitiative e.V. joined forces to organise cultural events in the underground reservoirs.
Cover: Knot in Arrow: Ore Oral Orientation (performance videostill), 2017, Viva Arte Viva, 57. Biennale di Venezia.Courtesy of the artist & WENTRUP Berlin.
fig. 1: Ore Oral Orientation, Installation view at WENTRUP, Berlin, Germany, 2018.