Critics’ Picks

Lehrauftrag, 2000.

Lehrauftrag, 2000.

Berlin

Christian Jankowski

Galerie Klosterfelde
Potsdamer Strasse 93
January 17–March 8, 2002

In the exhibition “Lehrauftrag” (Teaching contract), Christian Jankowski adds a new dimension to art education. Using his own teaching experience at various German art schools to offer shrewd, humorous advice to would-be artists, the thirty-three-year-old Berlin-based artist openly exploits the pedagogical situation. After interviewing several professors about the meaning of art, Jankowski and his students painted their comments on banners—for example, “One can build temples in Greece only when one can pay for them!!!”—and hung them on university buildings in mock protest. Transferred to the gallery, the slogans come off as a cynical memorial to political activism. The video Schulungsfilm (Tutorial film), 2002, is another product of teacher-student collaboration at the art school in Leipzig. Presented in the stilted, self-important format of a German television report, the video features ten lessons on artistic “self-positioning,” each presented by a student and their favorite personality from the Berlin art scene. The deadpan dialogues, written and acted by the students, explore everything from the “Leonardo Principle” (increasing your autonomy by diversifying your activities) to the “Ping-Pong Effect” (switching the frame of presentation to create new meanings). In one scene, Jankowski’s mother stands in for her son to explain his unique genius. In having real curators, critics, and gallerists play wooden doubles of themselves, Jankowski destroys any lasting illusions about the autonomy of institutional structures. Ultimately, the artist’s own artistic position is to create one that can be freely occupied by others.