“Make Your Own Life”

Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania

FOCUSING ON ARTISTIC productions and provocations in Cologne from roughly the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, “Make Your Own Life” is an introduction to an important and fertile moment in (mainly) German contemporary art, and it is not an easy show. In attempting to track the connections within and among the overlapping circles of artists, gallerists, musicians, and writers of that near-mythical time and place, curator Bennett Simpson has mounted an exhibition that exemplifies the difficulties of framing the complex social relations central to many crucial art-historical developments. Simpson acknowledges the impact of the imperatives of the present on our understanding of the past when he writes in the catalogue that the show “has been predicated on a belief that historical reception is ongoing and contradictory, a product of desires that are political and intellectual as well as libidinal

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