Antje Blumenstein

 (b.1967, Germany) lives and works in Berlin.

Berlin’s Antje Blumenstein focused attention on the increasing public interest in religious themes. In Blumenstein’s view, current political debate about ethics and morals and their decay often refers to Christian values, as if seeking a safeguard. What kind of response does this elicit from our largely secular society? To what extent is religion regaining relevance within society? These were the questions posed to passersby by the piece. 

Antje Blumenstein’s sculpture Himmel und Hölle (Heaven and Hell, 2006) ,is based on a popular children’s game, the origami “fortune teller” in whose folds are written contrary terms to be assigned to players by the mini oracle via a process of opening and shutting. Good or evil, heaven or hell are the antagonistic prospects on offer. Children playing the game are not usually aware that these sets of opposites are based on conventional religious notions; but with her almost brutal sculpture made of splintered chipboard, Antje Blumenstein focuses on precisely this dimension of rules that run through all religions — offering the prospect of a fulfilled afterlife or of eternal damnation. 

On the  wall of the gallery, she installed a further reference to notions of hell and the devil as understood by Islam — a reference that is hard to decipher for those lacking knowledge of the corresponding terminology: the words “er ging weg” (he went away), formed out of a blue light chain, are synonymous with Satan or Sheitan, whose presence is explained by the absence of Allah. Where God is not is automatically the locus of evil.

Antje Blumenstein also worked with the eye-catching and deceptively cheerful aesthetic of light chains in her work entitled Anyone Can Get Into Heaven (2007). The glowing slogan satirizes the promises made by advertising, completing the circle of Antje Blumenstein’s highly reflected works on the tensions between religion and society.

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