Halbzeit | Majerus, Michel, Mudam Luxembourg, CC BY-NC-ND
On a cold winter morning in 2012, I found myself in Stuttgart, where I paid a spontaneous and unplanned visit to the Kunstmuseum. At that time, practically the entire museum was taken over by a retrospective of the Luxembourg artist Michel Majerus (1967-2002). That exhibition was one overwhelming onslaught of enormous, powerful canvases and installations, in Majerus' signature mash-up style of brightly coloured references to popular culture. It impressed me deeply, and I have been a Majerus fan ever since.
When I prepared to participate in the Europeana 280 challenge on Wikidata and Wikipedia, I was delighted to discover in Europeana Collections a work by Majerus: Halbzeit (2002), in the collection of Mudam in Luxembourg City. I promptly decided to dedicate a Wikipedia article to it. Now - writing about contemporary art on Wikipedia is a nice challenge! It takes quite a bit of thought and effort to translate the often theoretical and lofty texts about today's art to Wikipedia's factual, neutral encyclopedic style. I hope I succeeded in summarising the work's meaning in a legible way, understandable for a broad audience.
Due to copyright restrictions, Wikipedia entries about contemporary art usually include few or no images, but I wrote this article on the English-language Wikipedia, where I was able to include a very small illustration for educational purposes under the fair use doctrine in US copyright. This case reminds me of the 20th century black hole: due to copyright restrictions, we see very few images of recent and contemporary works on platforms like Europeana Collections and Wikipedia… I wonder if an artist like Majerus, who built his entire oeuvre around remixing popular culture, wouldn't have approved of broader availability and reusability of digitised representations of his artworks? Unfortunately, Majerus himself can't tell us anymore (he died in 2002 in a plane accident), but I certainly would love to see more clear and well-informed choices by contemporary artists in this area.