Critics’ Picks

Isa Genzken, Wind (B), 2009, wood, plaster, ceramics, fabric, plastic, color photographs, foil, CDs, tape, spray paint, metal clips, dimensions variable.

Isa Genzken, Wind (B), 2009, wood, plaster, ceramics, fabric, plastic, color photographs, foil, CDs, tape, spray paint, metal clips, dimensions variable.

Berlin

Isa Genzken

Galerie Daniel Buchholz
Fasanenstraße 30
November 27, 2009–January 30, 2010

“You take a photograph of a situation and then you think about what’s missing,” Isa Genzken once said of photography as a starting point for sculpture. Given Michael Jackson’s recurrence as a motif throughout “Wind,” her concurrent exhibitions at Galerie Daniel Buchholz and Neugerriemschneider, it’s tempting to imagine that any absence here is a morbid or spiritual one, belonging perhaps to the myths and fictions surrounding Jackson, or more generally to vacuous cultural industries of glittery facades and denaturalized objects. Genzken’s fragile and extravagantly motley works, however, are concerned with less apparent themes. They recall the natural force of wind and, intriguingly, refer to the “paintings of Leonardo da Vinci,” according to one of the exhibition statements.

While her idiomatic style of assemblage and anarchic references to consumerist paraphernalia and psychedelic materials defy narrative reads, Genzken’s curious arrangements of foil, CDs, spray paint, and plastic remain generously open to association. At Buchholz, for example, juxtapositions, including images of Jackson in his youthful and effeminate glory (with wind-tousled hair and an open blouse) and Michelangelo’s David (the proverbial perfect male form), lead one to consider how structure, weight, and mass engender ideas of masculinity and, in turn, privileged sculptural ideals.

These issues spill over into architectural concerns, an interest that has recurred throughout Genzken’s highly variegated praxis. At Buchholz, a procession of totemic structures draped with chintzy materials brings to mind a precarious antiheroism and effaces the simplicity and clarity of form valued by Minimalist and classical taste. Yet beyond any furtive dialectics is the impression that a cautionary romanticism is embedded in her aloof humor and seeming ambivalence; while being strangely beautiful and visually enchanting, Genzken’s sensitive and elaborate constructions hint at the peril of inexhaustible freedoms, contradictions, and material saturation.

This exhibition is also on view at Neugerriemschneider, Linienstraße 155, until January 9.