May 26, 2012 - Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver - Josephine Meckseper
May 26, 2012

Josephine Meckseper

Photo: Josephine Meckseper.*

Josephine Meckseper
American Leg

May 25–September 2, 2012

Opening: Thursday, May 24, 7–10pm

Contemporary Art
Gallery, Vancouver

555 Nelson Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada V6B 6R5

T 00 1 604 681 2700 
info [​at​]

American Leg is Josephine Meckseper’s first exhibition in Canada. For this site-specific work, Meckseper has created eight self-contained window treatments in the Contemporary Art Gallery’s street-front vitrines. Originally intended for retail, these window spaces will serve as ready-made structures for Meckseper’s ongoing investigation of consumer society and archaeology of the present.

Meckseper’s work unites modernism with the formal language of commercial display, combining mass-produced objects with images and artifacts of recent historical and political events. Consumerism as an unrelenting presence in our daily lives is reflected in the artist’s highly polished sculptural installations which offer a critique of capitalist economy and lay bare some of its disparities.

In this new installation, the individual vignettes are refined into austere compositions of single sculptures centred against a black background. A repeated vertical text graphically set in a typeface referencing German Jugendstil adds a further critical dimension as well as a particular personal resonance for Meckseper. The text’s aesthetic has been appropriated from elements of early 20th-century Jugendstil architecture in Worpswede, where the artist’s great grand uncle, Heinrich Vogeler, known for his participation in the German avant-garde, and for his collaborations with Rainer Maria Rilke, leads a utopian artist movement. Vogeler was a vocal advocate for the working class who joined the German communist party shortly after WWI and then followed his political principles to Russia. Meckseper’s connection of contemporary consumer culture to Jugendstil points out the emergence of historic avant-garde from a consideration of the everyday, and its development as a form of aesthetic and political resistance to the mainstream.

This over-arching theme also speaks to a broader local past. References to Vancouver’s pioneer beginnings and its colonial origins are reflected in a number of sculptures loosely referencing the vertical forms of the Northwest Coast totem pole. With these associations, Meckseper pays homage to an exchange system now lost—that of bartering and gift trade within large communities.

The exhibition is generously supported by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V.

The Contemporary Art Gallery is a publicly funded institution, generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the City of Vancouver and the Province of BC through the BC Arts Council and the BC Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch. We are very grateful for this support and that we receive from the Vancouver Foundation and our members, donors, and volunteers.

*Image above:
Josephine Meckseper. Courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, Timothy Taylor Gallery, London, and Galerie Reinhard Hauff, Stuttgart.

Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver
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