August 14, 2009 - Ludwig Museum - Museum of Contemporary Art - Isa Genzken
August 14, 2009

Isa Genzken

Isa Genzken
Kinder filmen III (Filming Children III), detail, 2005
Museum Ludwig, Köln,
Photo: Lothar Schnepf
© Isa Genzken

Open, Sesame!

15.08. – 15.11.2009

Bischofsgartenstraße 1, 

D-50667 Cologne

“Open, Sesame!” Those were the magic words that Ali Baba uttered in order to enter the mountain cave where the 40 thieves kept their rich booty stashed away. In this tale from The Thousand and One Nights, scintillating splendour and staunch loyalty are intimately intertwined here with unprincipled destruction and envy.

Open, Sesame! This slogan has been taken by sculptor Isa Genzken as the title for her most comprehensive solo show to date, which Museum Ludwig has developed in cooperation with the Whitechapel Gallery in London. This retrospective offers for the first time the opportunity by a selection of over 60 works to trace Isa Genzken’s artistic development from her beginnings to her most recent work, and to present the full complexity of the themes and formal issues she investigates.

From the aerodynamic wooden sculptures with incisions, which she made in the 1970s, to her recent frail installations in space, her works come across as a symbol of the tightrope act between beauty and destruction, grace and brutality that we all perform in our lives. With the surrounding social, political and economic conditions constantly in mind, Genzken reveals the unstable, bewildering and contradictory sides of our knowledge and perceptions by questioning things that seem quite incontrovertible.

In her sculptural works, Genzken reveals her ceaseless scrutiny of the spectrum of meaning that is to be found in the three-dimensional object. With her ellipsoid sculptures, her architectural plaster and concrete pieces of the 1980s, and her recently created works done with consumer goods and everyday objects, she remains within the coordinates of a traditional approach to sculpture. At the same time, however, her objects distinguish themselves by their fragility, their imperfection and their openness, which creates a highly charged relationship to the surrounding space and hints at an autobiographical, psycho-emotional dimension. Genzken’s works present a challenge both to the achievements of modern sculpture as well as to the contemporary concepts of the work rooted in Minimal Art and Conceptual Art. This has allowed her to assume a position in the current art discourse that is as authoritative as it is unusual.

Ludwig Museum - Museum of Contemporary Art
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