Review: Antje Majewski, “E.F.A. im Garten”

neugerriemschneider, Berlin.

Wooden planks stand at attention, held upright by basic building blocks such as clay bricks, stones, and iron. This littering of ready-made raw materials arranged as formal sculpture is dispersed throughout the gallery. Fitted triangles of black, green, and crimson are applied to the faces of the battered wooden boards like war paint or trail blazes marking the way through a forest. These are the symbols and colors of the eco-feminist anarchism flag for an organization founded by Antje Majewski.

Though she generally works in the vein of figurative painting, for her latest exhibition, “E.F.A. im Garten,” Majewski responds directly to the changing landscape of her local environment in Berlin. Turning the gallery into an intimate site of protest, the artist culled her materials from a long-standing community garden near her home that was recently subsumed by a property developer intent on repurposing the land into a self-storage center.

Tightly bound wooden handles, as in the piece Bündel (all works 2015), and rusted iron heads of pickaxes lie on the floor, alluding to Majewski’s ongoing interest in the tools of manual labor. The defunct and disused materials reveal a more somber reality, though—the incapacitation and powerlessness engendered by oncoming urban gentrification. The one painting here, from which the exhibition takes its name, becomes a backdrop for the sculptures, locating the viewer in the lush green community garden of these pieces’ origin in all its unkempt and wild undergrowth. These representative memorials and totems to Berlin’s waning autonomous cultural spaces function as a warning that we may be losing the path.

First published on Artforum.com, July 24th, 2015.
http://artforum.com/archive/id=53914

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