cologne

Christian Falsnaes, One, 2013. Performance view, November 7, 2013. Center: Christian Falsnaes. Photo: Alwin Lay.

Christian Falsnaes

DREI

Christian Falsnaes, One, 2013. Performance view, November 7, 2013. Center: Christian Falsnaes. Photo: Alwin Lay.

The performances of Christian Falsnaes, a Danish artist who lives in Berlin, often seem pretty mean-spirited—even cynical. And yet by balancing his art on the brink of the intolerable, he has given it a unique power. His performances draw viewers in with deft manipulation and involve them in the action. Since the 1960s, this sort of art has generally been described as emancipatory, even though it sometimes has a distinctly authoritarian edge to it; think of Joseph Beuys’s actions, in which the problem of authority was notoriously unresolved.

Falsnaes’s actions address the issue of authority head-on. The performance that constituted the opening of his exhibition “One” at DREI in Cologne, organized by Oriane Durand, a curator at Kunstverein Nürnberg in Nuremberg, was no exception. It took place in an all-white room whose walls were hung with white canvases; Falsnaes himself was

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