Isa Genzken – MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt

Isa Genzken (b. 1948) is today one of the most influential artists of her generation. Following the major retrospective of Genzken at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst looks forward to presenting her new workgroups of 2014/15 by the artist, titled Actors, opening on Friday 13 March at 8:00pm.

For several years, Genzken has been making use of everyday objects in her work as insignia of the consumer world, which she combines with industrial decoration material as well as fragments of images from the popular media and personal photographs. With her latest workgroup, which has occasioned the MMK exhibition, she has continued the search for a contemporary form of sculpture. Actors II is an expression of her constant self-interrogation and artistic renewal.

In the exhibition, which will comprise more than 20 figures as well as several floor and wall works, Genzken will combine set pieces of our contemporary world with autobiographical elements. The “actors,” as the artist names the figures, form the core of the workgroup. She dresses them in her own worn-out clothing supplemented with work and protective wear and edged with decoration materials. Camouflaged with reflective foils or rendered silent with multi-coloured adhesive tape, the figures become hauntingly close-up and undisguised self-portraits of the artist.

Since the 1970s, Isa Genzken has developed an approach to sculpture that takes a critical look at the German and American art of the post-war years while at the same time bringing forth a wholly independent and distinctive pictorial language. From the beginning, the artist concerned herself with the definition of sculpture, while at the same time forging links with modern architecture and its impact on people. In the 2000s she developed her own assemblage technique. She combines sculptures and wall works made of dolls, plastic toys, cheap merchandise and decoration objects to form three-dimensional scenes or assemblages, which she further accentuates with spray paint. These often garish and psychedelic-looking sculptural works possess the quality of three-dimensional storyboards. They consistently contain allusions to current topics and testify to Genzken’s constant concern with the present. Here her own biography and the search for a balance between Self and Other often play a central role.

Concurrently with her work in the sculpture medium, Genzken has also been working with film for many years. She considers film the most democratic medium of the visual arts. The artist is interested in the specific reception conditions that distinguish film, and she applies them to her sculptural practice. Whereas in a film the viewer is led through a setting by the camera, Genzken designs her stage-like sculptural installations in such a way that the exhibition visitors can appropriate the works’ contents on their own.

Accompanying programme 

MMK talks

Wednesday 18 March, 7pm
The well-known art historian Benjamin H.D. Buchloh will talk about Isa Genzken’s most recent workgroup. He will discuss her works in a historical context ranging from Dada to French Surrealism.

Film screening

The two films manifest Genzken’s exploration of various role models as well as the question of her own personal and artistic position—themes that are also of key importance for the Actors.

Wednesday 22 April, 7pm
Meine Großeltern im Bayerischen Wald (My Grandparents in the Bavarian Forest), 1992 Video, colour, sound, 63 minutes

Wednesday 13 May, 7pm
Die kleine Bushaltestelle (Gerüstbau) (The Little Bus Stop [Scaffolding]), 2012DVD, colour, sound, 71 minutes

Conceived in close collaboration with the artist, the exhibition is being co-produced with the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg.

 

MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main – Domstraße 10, Frankfurt
14 March – 31 May 2015