press release

What is the relationship between technology and spirituality? Between soul, mind and matter? What is archaic and what is contemporary? What is a "real" or authentic image and what is reproduction or imitation? These are central questions in the work of German artist Markus Selg. In his sculptures, collages, installations and films, Selg processes objects and visual elements from different eras and cultures. His work is sometimes traditional and craftsmanlike, at other times highly technological. He examines what it means to live in a world where the majority of images only consist of digital data, bits and bytes. This results in an incredibly diverse universe of images, which comprises computer games, sci-fi films, Voodoo, Bible stories, panoramas or traditional sculptures from Benin.

Exhibition For his solo exhibition Primitive Data at De Hallen Haarlem, Markus Selg (1974, Singen) has selected works from the last 10 years to be installed in a non-chronological, comprehensive Gesamtkunstwerk which reads like a mythological "circle of life"—from birth to death. The ideas of ​​"sacrifice" (a present or gift to a higher power) and water (from the mythological river Styx, which separates the world of the living from the underworld, evoking the stream of images that daily engulfs us on the Internet and social media) are recurring elements.

Primitive versus high-tech The title Primitive Data refers to language primitives in computer programming—the simplest and smallest elements that a programmer has at his disposal. The title also contains an internal contradiction: while the term "primitive" refers to "primordial" and "barbaric," "data" refers to contemporary digitized information. Data is processed by computers, of course, but on a human level, also in our DNA, the biological "hard drive" that stores the past and contains the future. Our ancestors are present in that DNA, but their knowledge and wisdom hides in collective memory and mythological stories. Primitive Data links multiple myths surrounding the origins of humanity and life with present-day habits of and in our current Information Age.

Markus Selg lives and works in Berlin. Primitive Data is his first solo museum exhibition in the Netherlands. Recent exhibitions include shows at BOX Freiraum in Berlin, de Appel Arts Centre in Amsterdam, and CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux.

This exhibition has been made possible by the kind support of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen.