VENARI LAVARI LUDERE RIDERE OCCAST VIVERE, 2011

In the summer of 2011, I prepared an exhibition at neugerriemschneider in Berlin and realized that I had to investigate my first object, the hedgeapple, one more time.[1] I knew the hedgeapple fruit only from the Internet and had made it into a mummified Entity. With all all other objects of the World of Gimel, I had gone into the country from which they came. Here, I had only searched the Internet for information. The “hedgeapple”, also called the “Osage-orange” after its county of origin in Oklahoma, is the fruit of a tree, the wood of which is used to make the best hunting bows in the world. They are also used to plant hedges for the herds, hence the name “hedgeapple”. The wood is very resistant, is slow to rot and burns very nicely in the fireplace, where it sprays sparks. The fruit is inedible even for animals. It is presumed that the giant sloth–now extinct–liked to eat them.

 

Osage man        os001

 

Living in Osage County were the Osage Indians, who were expelled from their native land and were given a contract for their new land. They became so wealthy when oil was found there at the beginning of the 20th century that whites tried to marry into Indian families.

 

John Joseph Matthews (c. 1894-1979)
John Joseph Mathews

And so it came to be that the “half blood” Osage Indian John Joseph Mathews (1894–1979) was able to study at Oxford. He became a writer, and after some time in Europe he returned to his homeland and lived in a lonely stone house he had built himself, happy with the hunting and life among nature. He describes this in his book Talking to the Moon (1945): using detailed observations of animals and plants, he follows the course of a year in the oak woods of Osage County and describes the perfect balance of the ecosystem around him.

 

John Joseph Matthews (c. 1894-1979) in front of his fireplace
John Joseph Matthews and his fireplace

 

In my “fireplace room” I reconstructed Mathews’s home using stones that I painted myself. It is based on a historic photograph that shows John Joseph Mathews at his fireplace. He had a Latin inscription on the mantelpiece: VENARI LAVARI LUDERE RIDERE OCCAST VIVERE (To hunt, to bathe, to play, to laugh, is to live).

My fireplace is not a real house; it is only a three-dimensional painting of stones. The house Antje Majewski built is made from paint – but it is build by hand just as the house John Joseph Matthew built in Osage County.
It also contains no real fire. But you can sit on a chair that is also a painting, but real enough to sit on, and browse John Joseph Matthew’s Talking to the Moon – and you will find loose photos of the author and of Osage Indians. You might be tempted to take them home with you. They will be replaced. To your feet you discover fresh apples. You might be tempted to eat one. Don’t worry, it will also be replaced.

You can also step out–into the forest or the city–and exist not only next to, but with the other; not only handle it, but establish a connection to it. As if everything, even the “smallest, most breakable thing from China”, is filled with the same, inalienable, unsellable life.

I found the chair in the chicken coop at my house in the countryside. The house is between four lakes in the Havelland region, in a village called Himmelpfort. Freisler’s Egg is buried there in the ground until the end of the exhibition. The plot is large and overgrown, and the neighbours are already complaining about all the weeds crawling under their fence.

Taking the place of the Entity, which was represented by a double–a lemon that had been left to mummify on its own in my studio–, is a living fruit. “Morphologically speaking, the ‘fruit’ consists of many interwoven, connate drupes that come form a so-called syncarp, an aggregate fruit.”

I met this fruit–which I only knew virtually–for the first time during the exhibition in Graz, because it grows in the Graz botanical garden and is ripe in October.

 

 

See also:
The Guardian of All Things that are the Case. The Eight Objects, 2009-2011
Antje Majewski. Die Gimel-Welt. Wie kommen Objekte zum Sprechen? /
Antje Majewski. The World of Gimel. How to Make Objects Talk?
Kunsthaus Graz 2011
Exhibitions:
Antje Majewski. Die Gimel-Welt. Wie kommen Objekte zum Sprechen? /
Antje Majewski. The World of Gimel. How to Make Objects Talk?
Kunsthaus Graz 2011
The Guardian of All Things that are the Case, 2011
Catalogue:
Adam Budak, Peter Pakesch (Ed.), Antje Majewski, The World of Gimel. How to make objects talk. Kunsthaus Graz / Sternberg Press, 2011