Resurrected in Times of Need: Jenine Marsh at Ashley Berlin
by Nina Hanz

Jenine Marsh, Resurrected in Times of Need, installation view. Image credits: Ashley Berlin and the artist. 

Resurrection is a kind of remembrance; it is to rise again, to become alive again, through monument and language and memory and miracle. But for resurrection to happen, one must first have loss.

For a window of time in April of 2024, the Berlin project space Ashley hosted Jenine Marsh’s first solo exhibition in Germany, Resurrected in times of need curated by Angel Callander. This was the venue’s final presentation after eleven years of facilitating shows and cultural events in Berlin-Kreuzberg. With her material research into the potential political agency of sculpture, particularly at the intersection of the public and the personal, the Toronto-based artist challenged the small exhibition space in Oranienstraße with intimate observations of a monumental past. In a city where interpretations of history are at a constant battle, Berlin becomes a backdrop for Marsh to critically engage with the intense layering of historical narratives in the public sphere with a microcosm of political affects.

The gallery walls were lined with LED daisy lights and two sculptures shaped like halves of a giant baby arm occupied the center. Vaguely reminiscent of some of Berlin's Soviet sculptures, one that has perhaps been forgotten or neglected or demolished, the arms rested on dusty tarps. Empty concrete vessels, these limbs (neither a site of ruin or construction nor reaching out or retracting away in their motionless state) held small objects in their wake: decaying carnations, a bottle full of messages, small rocks, train-pressed coins. There was a heft to these sculptures that contrasted the spindly, pink-hued LED flowers hung on the walls – which, on closer glance were preserved in resin.

Jenine Marsh, Need/Want (fallen), 2024 Cement, bronze, expanded foam, plas&c tarp. Installed dimensions 224 x 90 x 25 cm. Image credits: Ashley Berlin and the artist. 

Jenine Marsh, Resurrected in Times of Need, installation view. Image credits: Ashley Berlin and the artist. 

Prone to light, the flowers proliferated erectly on thin rods. Muted rainbows of daisy heads were pierced and shed thin wires to illuminate the highest bud. They rose with the cadence of a funeral procession, calling to the departed, calling on attention. Their innate vulnerability to deteriorate reminded us of the susceptible content of memory; the hardness of their shell, what we choose to hold on to.

In The Glass Essay, Canadian poet and classicist Anne Carson writes:

You remember too much,

my mother said to me recently.

Why hold onto all that? And I said,

Where can I put it down? [1]

Jenine Marsh, Little Delusions, 2024 (detail) Flowers, wire, LED light, coloured gels, acrylic, electrical wiring, power distributor, electrical tape, AC/DC adaptor, universal outlet adaptor, hardware. 147 x 5 x 24 cm.

I think of how personal instance has shaped history, and how we all contain the potential agency Marsh explores in her practice. Carson, pulling in parallel on the legacy of literary icon Emily Brontë and the turmoil of a fictional heartbreak, gathers the past and summons it through the fragile prism of memory. She clenches deeply onto Wuthering Heights and the words of Brontë to speak with the haunting clarity of a lover lost. Carson creates a vessel and calls it an ‘essay’, to assert itself not as mere fiction, but as reflection. For Marsh, this agency is symbolized through the found objects integrated into the installation.

Around her sculptures, Marsh littered the liminal spaces with small details symbolic of a collective detachment, a kind of counter-parataxis of objects resurrecting themselves. Like Carson, she makes us think of which stories we keep and analyses how they got their power, but with the clear distinction of stripping her talismans of their influence.

Nothing in the exhibition existed in isolation, and signs of human intervention were everywhere. We encounter a range of material ‘things’ that had been lost in the urban landscape – struggling between vitality and decay, conservation and destruction, rising stem for stem in slow symmetry. The coins were hardly recognizable, crushed or melted under the pressure of a train gliding over tracks with a swiftness of being neither here nor there. Lost jewelry and silica packets cluster near votive flowers and small notions of protest are printed on paper reading ‘utopia, utopia.’ All are traces of what the public has left behind, developed from the artist’s earlier research into public sculptures and how we interact with them. 

Jenine Marsh, Oasis, 2024 Altered copy of Thomas More's Utopia, sparkling wine, bottle. 30 x 8 x 8 cm.

Oasis, 2024.

In the past, Marsh has explored these latent talismans through public fountains. Deeply tied to the history of the development of cities, fountains have become a universal sign of longing. Their position as a space for wish-making and coin tossing has earlier in her career become a point of focus, one that Marsh treats like an alternative economy. ‘The small sacrifice of a thrown coin,’ she writes, ‘disrupts normative movements of capital, expressing a cultural undercurrent of anti-capitalist illicit behavior, whether it is recognized as such or not.’ In her 2023 public installation at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, these forfeited coins and other evidence of festivals, drug use, tourism and protests made up a large part of her intervention. These disregarded items were revealed after carefully removing hundreds of concrete pavers to show the remnants of public life that had fallen through the cracks. In a similar sense, the objects included in Resurrected in times of need held and lost value through our collective abandonment of them.

With heads of coin faces melted, Marsh steered us to value spareness, the beauty of small or infrequent things and the aesthetics of non-acquisition. Her mundane objects trophy in the political through materiality and memory. Destroyed or transformed, she teaches us of how we value objects at the moment they depart from us and slip into a canon of history. She makes us critical of how we hold onto what we have lived through and hope for.

Installation view 

Jenine Marsh, Need/Want (utility), 2024 Cement, soil, bronze, expanded foam, detritus, plastic tarp. Installed dimensions 307 x 137 x 41 cm .

Hollow, the disembodied concrete arms in the exhibition space could therefore only hold as much as we decided to give them. Through ashy effervescence, they echoed Marsh’s acute observations of Berlin’s ideological struggle between East and West and conjured the monumental into the personal and thus the malleable. Like fountains and wishing wells, public statues too hold certain and perhaps utopic aspirations.

Emulating the sculptural style of Socialist Realism, Marsh destabilized the idealized version of a socialist world, in particular the once Soviet-occupied East Berlin. Referencing Treptower Park’s Soviet monument, which commemorates the Red Army’s victory over the Nazis, her concrete sculptures expose the temporal uncertainty within such objects, as “their images of a utopic longed-for future clash with a contradictory present.” This observation comes at a time when public discourse around the Treptower statue in Berlin, and Germany’s policing in general, is high. Over the last two years, the legacy the monument represents has been contorted to validate the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, and the public is contesting it. A growing sight criticized in Berlin by pro-EU or Ukrainian activists, [2] the Soviet monument is witnessing its story being resurrected elsewhere in times of desperate, authoritarian need. Equally so, its revere by Russian Nationalists has become an object to challenge. 

Marsh’s concrete sculptures, although scaled-down from the monument in Treptower Park, are the visualization of how the content of memory is delicate to a society’s values and how it can split in two within one static, statuesque body. Although this is true for all histories, Berlin as a city has a particularly strong pattern of collective memory being used to transform its social order. This shakes deep into the foundation of Marsh’s installation and forms a thesis of a carelessness to history that, in flux and rubble, dismantles our ideologies. She reminds us that memory without power is a crumbling process of duration, where presence and loss  constantly mix.


[1] Anne Carson, “The Glass Essay” from Glass, Irony, and God. New Directions Publishing, © 1994

[2] “Annual Berlin commemoration at Treptow Park, plus counterprotest”, Deutsche Welle, 5 May 2024, 


by Jenine Marsh

11/04- 29/04/2024

Curated by Angel Callander

Ashley, Berlin

Oranienstrasse 37

10999 Berlin