Simon Wachsmuth: Seven Deadly Sins

Simon Wachsmuth: Seven Deadly Sins


Simon Wachsmuth, Saligia & Genius Malignus (Evil Demon), 2018–19. Four bronze sculptures, textile, and mixed media on paper. Photo: Renato Ghiazza (detail).

September 1, 2022
Simon Wachsmuth
Seven Deadly Sins
September 9–November 26, 2022
Exhibition opening: September 8, 6–9pm
Zilberman Berlin
Goethestraße 82
10623 Berlin
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Zilberman Berlin is pleased to announce the solo exhibition Seven Deadly Sins by Simon Wachsmuth. Wachsmuth’s work revolves around the handling of historical narratives. His research-based works are often linked to history and are explorations of different sets of cultural and political relationships. His works have been shown at exhibitions such as Documenta 12, the Istanbul biennial or the biennials of Busan and Macao. 

In Seven Deadly Sins, Wachsmuth chooses to investigate particular histories that set out from his current home and workplace in Berlin. By addressing the theme of war entangled with history, both public and private, Wachsmuth shows how power structures shape our conception of history and our environment.

Saligia is a group of bronze casts of human arms. The arms are separated from the body, like remnants of bronze statues. At the same time, the body fragments indicate the first casualty of war. Armbands were added to the sculptural representations to capture aspects of political history, signifying the complex relationship between people and the insignia of power. Tyranny is written on a red bind, standing out against the seven sins written on white. The artist proposes a new reading of these terms, considering them not only as human, but even essential in bringing about change. The relationship between the seven deadly sins and the idea of tyranny, between power relations and their victims, is explored in this work.

Genius Malignus is a term going back to René Descartes. This title refers to a thought by this 17th-century philosopher: no matter how much you look at the world and think you understand it, there is always an evil spirit that convinces you that the world looks differently. Therefore, you have to mistrust your own observations. Wachsmuth’s expansive work consists of an accumulation of book pages with photographic images. The images are taken from a documentation of the staging of Mother Courage and her Children, written in the 1930s by theatre practitioner, playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht. The play is set in 17th century Europe, during the Thirty Years War; a time in which some of the political structures that we know in politics today, were starting to take shape.

As a third work in the exhibition, Simon Wachsmuth shows the documentation of I work day and night (2021), a performance which was enacted by the feet of a sculpture in Berlin, depicting writer Heinrich von Kleist. The performance is based on the experience of severe restlessness, both of the artist himself, Heinrich von Kleist and of poet Else Lasker-Schüler. Wachsmuth connects the story of both writers with his own by spending the night at the feet of the sculpture on a red-cross blanket, meditating on social progress and the still unresolved problematic economic situation of cultural workers.

The last work in the exhibition is a video sketch, the first part of a work in progress. Preussischer Erzengel was the title of a work by John Heartfield and Rudolf Schlichter, shown in the first Dada Salon in 1920 in Berlin. The artists hung a puppet from the ceiling with a military uniform, wearing a sign with a reference to the former airfield Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin. The work, as well as the Dada movement in general, is determined by the anti-militaristic impetus of the post-war period. Wachsmuth’s work Hoch vom Himmel komm ich her (2022) sets out to depict the different meanings that the Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin has had over time; from a military exercising ground and hub of Nazi politics to a place associated with freedom. 

During the exhibition, Zilberman is pleased to present a performance in collaboration with Laurie Schwartz and Itinerant Interludes. Seven Deadly Sins is accompanied by a catalogue with contributions by Bettina Klein, Lotte Laub, Simon Wachsmuth.

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September 1, 2022

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