13.10.2018 – 06.01.2019

ZAK Center for Contemporary Art – Project space


The exhibition The Wood Thieves by the English-French artist and theorist Sharon Kivland (* 1955 in Germany) is based on an intensive examination of a series of articles that the young Karl Marx published in 1842 in the Rheinische Zeitung under the title “Debatten über das Holzdiebstahls-Gesetz” (Debates on the Wood Theft Law). The background was a newly enacted law of the Rheinische Landtag, which prohibited the population from collecting branches lying on the ground in the forest as firewood, thus depriving them of an important livelihood. This fact early confirmed Marx’s thinking that increasingly opposed the deprivation of customary rights by private property.

The forest – as an important livelihood for the poor population in the 19th century – is the central theme of the exhibition display, in which Sharon Kivland explores questions about the social reality of capitalist systems. In her works, the artist combines various materials, sources and reference systems. For her presentation in the project space of the ZAK, she has developed a staging in which painting and texts, graphics and objects, such as bundles of brushwood, come into contact with an entire menagerie of prepared forest dwellers. Equipped with political symbols and against the background of European history, from the French Revolution to Grimm’s fairy tales and socialist social utopias, a complex political associative space emerges.


It is supported by a funding from Senate Department for Culture and Europe / Department of Culture.
ill.: Sharon Kivland, Forest after Grimm, 2018, Aquarellzeichnung
Das lange Gebäude der Alten Kaserne, Foto: Zitadelle Berlin, Friedhelm Hoffmann


ZAK Center for Contemporary Art // Old Barracks