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Photo: Eric Bell

Aviva Silverman: The Living Watch Over the Living ii

Opening: 13.09.19, 19:00
Duration of the exhibition: 14.09.–10.11.19
Opening hours: 24/7
LVX. Pavilion of the Volksbühne at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

On last year’s American independence day, activist Patricia Okoumou protested against the policy of child separation at the US-Mexico border with a heroic gesture. Putting her own life at risk, she climbed the base of the Statue of Liberty wearing a printed T-shirt calling to “Rise and Resist”. “Lady Liberty” has stood with her raised torch at the southern tip of Manhattan since 1886, waiting for the “tired” and the “poor,” the “wretched refuse” and the “homeless.” This promise, however, has become increasingly mocking under the presidency of Donald Trump. Ascending a statue that has always stood for democracy and freedom is akin to reclaiming that promise, and evokes Emma Lazarus’ poem*, inscribed on a bronze plaque at the statue’s feet.

In Aviva Silverman’s installation The Living Watch Over the Living ii, three marionette-like glass angels follow the footage from Okoumou’s action. They are doing what angels usually do: surveilling what happens on earth. According to holy scriptures, angels are non-gendered beings of a purely spiritual nature, who act as God’s envoys and deliver his messages. In Arabic, the term Shahid refers to both a witness and a martyr, an etymological connection between those who watch and keep score, and those who are ready to go all the way for what they believe in, regardless of the consequences. In that sense, four Angels meet at the Volksbühne Pavilion: three are made of glass, and Patricia Okoumou. And so we watch, as one mortal looks over the other mortals, all under the eyes of the immortal.

The Living Watch Over the Living ii is Aviva Silverman’s first solo exhibition in Germany and combines the artist’s various interests: technologies and artifacts of moral and political surveillance, activism and human rights issues, and the embodiment and custodians of narrative and belief.

Aviva Silverman (born 1986, New York) works with sculpture, performance, photography, and theater. Solo exhibitions and performances include: Protect Me From What I Am, Swiss Institute, New York (2019) and Twister, MoMA PS1, New York (2016). Group exhibitions include Greater New York, MoMA PS1, New York (2015); It Can Howl, Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, Georgia (2016) and I Surrender Dear, Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg, Austria (2016).

Curator: Elodie Evers
Assistant curator: Adela Yawitz

The exhibition is funded by the Senate Departement for Culture and Europe.


The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!“

Future exhibition:
Klaus Weber: NONUMENTS

Past exhibition:
Starship. The Near Future


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