With two parallel exhibitions dedicated to Isa Genzken (b. 1948), Here and Now and Works from 1973 to 1983, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen offers a special look at the work of one of the most important contemporary women artists worldwide. The focus is on two work phases from her career spanning five decades. On the bel étage current works from the last decade are on view on. In parallel, on the lower floor of K21, the emphasis is on her visionary early work—a period that has never before been honored to this extent in any other exhibition. This exciting compilation draws attention to developments within the oeuvre, as well as to Isa Genzken’s attitude towards the world.
The exhibition Isa Genzken. Here and Now undertakes a diagnosis of the state of the present. Featuring installations, sculptures, and wall works the Berlin-based artist takes an unabashed look at the society of late capitalism. In doing so, she exposes the crises, fears, and taboos that characterize it.
Her installation Gibt es genug Medikamente (Is There Enough Medicine), for example, refers to how societies struggle to deal with diseases. With the installation Poverty, she in turn deals with the themes of impoverishment and homelessness. Also on display is a selection of works from the series of Geldbilder (Money Pictures), which consists of a group of canvases on which banknotes and coins of different currencies are attached, thus figuratively referring to currencies that shape the world.
A further group of works in the exhibition are the Schauspieler (Actors). These sculptures comprised of mannequins, which the artist has dressed, sprayed, and equipped with everyday objects, stand individually or in groups fraught with tension. Here as well, references to the artist’s own biography become clear—several of the mannequins wear Genzken’s own clothes.
The aspect of interaction is also important, insofar as visitors can walk around the sculpture groups or pass between the individual mannequins, thus becoming part of the scenarios. Unlike the Ellipsoids and Hyperboloids, the Schauspieler create strong narratives among themselves. At the same time, however, just as in the early sculptures, their material again refers to industrially manufactured production and, in particular, the rapidly perishable consumer goods of mass culture.
As with the Ellipsoids and Hyperboloids, with the Schauspieler cinematic thinking plays a role which has accompanied Isa Genzken from the very beginning of her artistic career. The model-like character of the groups of actors is reminiscent of film sets or scenarios from cities, and the movement of the viewer is an elementary component of the work.
The exhibition Isa Genzken. Here and Now is sponsored by the Foundation for Art, Culture, and Social Affairs of Sparda Bank West.
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