Jerszey Seymour Galerie Crone, Berlin

April 26 - June 8, 2013

Perhaps you remember the film “Being John Malkovich”? The strange 7½ floor that catapulted Lotte, a.k.a. Cameron Diaz, directly into the brain of her colleague John Malkovich, making it possible for her to do something we have all wished we could do at some point: see the world through the eyes of another person?
Jerszey Seymour’s solo show “The Universe Wants To Play”, which Galerie Crone is presenting as part of Gallery Weekend Berlin, is quite similar to that film’s experimental design: Seymour, born in Canada in 1968, grew up in London, also invites us into a brain – to run riot there, play and dance, if we like, and to become a thought in someone else’s head for once.
The journey begins in an anteroom of sorts – the ground floor of the gallery. This is where the artist exhibits the prologue that carefully prepares visitors for the seymourian floor.
Through the eye of a camera we gaze into an S-Bahn that circles round and round Berlin continuously. Performers in colourful hoodies appear and disappear, wrestle with themselves and for a bloody bone, which provides the first key to the exhibition‘s core. Seymour entitles the film “Thank God Hip Hop, Pop Art And (Your) Desire Are Back”. The artist uses the quest for the Holy Grail as a frame story for the film – there are flashes of elements from films such as “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. “For C.G. Jung,” Seymour says, “the Holy Grail is an archetypal symbol. The quest for the Holy Grail is also always a quest for the self, for the lost state of innocence.”
But paradise, of course, is not where the artist tries to transport visitors to his show. The ascent takes them to the “Brain Cave Spaceship” on the first floor, the brain-laboratory he has furnished with objects from his artistic cosmos. On a glittering sand beach lie boulders, stones, bones and animal skulls from another time, painted bricks, branches. In between these, frogs hop around and small containers are hidden – Seymour’s “memory tanks”, which also offer clues about this show. Between the layers of memory, hallucinogenic plants grow: “They activate thoughts,” Seymour says, “allowing them to break out of the order of things and begin to move in a similar way to the
frogs.” Frogs: creatures that excel in making the transition from water to land, from one universe to another.
What’s left after that? The seymourian floor is not chaos, but rather an exceptional Dionysian state, where sense and the senses are allowed to recombine in pop-archaic ecstasy.
Jerszey Seymour was an engineer before studying industrial design at the Royal College of Art in London. He lived in Italy for a long time, where he worked for Andrea Branzi and Alessandro Mendini, among others, and collaborated with design companies including Magis, Vitra and Kreo. “How do we want to live?” is a question central in his work, which – after institutional exhibits at the Design Museum in London, Vitra Design Museum in Basel and Berlin, and Palais de Tokyo in Paris – he has now developed further for his first solo show at
Galerie Crone: “How do we want to live in our heads anyway?”
The “Brain Cave Spaceship” is not an answer to this. Seymour’s “environments” are always experimental offerings. For the gallery exhibit, the artist has drawn geometric shapes, circles, squares and triangles on bricks, only to subsequently take them apart again like pieces of a puzzle in his brain-laboratory. From gestures like these, the artist develops playgrounds where his audience romps about and – as Seymour says – are also welcome to engage in
anarchy.

Photos: Marcus Schneider