Looking back isn’t always easy. It also isn’t always flattering. What was before can now be sobering. It can bereave us of our illusions and sometimes it hurts. An objective perspective takes a lot of courage, but also a necessary distance. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why conceptual artist Christian Jankowski asked Nina Hoss to look back.
Renowned German actress Nina Hoss, is best known for her performances at the Berlin Schaubühne, in Christian Petzold’s films, or as German diplomat in the US-series “Homeland”. She doesn’t usually have a close relationship to art, though. But this is exactly what she has been up to over the past couple of weeks: Nina Hoss is the official curator of Christian Jankowski’s “Retrospective”, a show by the German artist whom the media often described as art’s “Till Eulenspiegel” because he likes to make fun of the art establishment by taking everything apart, mixing it up, and recombining it in a strange new fashion. It is not surprising that Jankowski lives up to his reputation and uses his retrospective to play a well-thought out prank on his curator Nina Hoss.
Curator Hoss completely stocked the installations of Berlin’s renowned Gallery of Contemporary Fine Arts with Jankowski’s works. A movie room shows 10 hours of film material. Hula hoops are leaned against the wall. “For those who want to get some exercise”, Jankowski said. The largest show room combines video works, sculptures, and installations. On the left, a fence blocks the view of some of the videos. Up front we find the sort of kitchen we might see in many homes. The 48 year-old artist has interests that go beyond the art establishment. He’s also interested in reality, in an everyday life that we tend to only contemplate with firmly closed eyes. He ruptures reality with joyful defiance. In his well-known work, “The Hunt”, he uses a bow and arrows to shoot frozen chicken, apples, and bread, and then walks up to the cash register and pays for the goods without offering any type of comment for his behavior. Another example is his earliest (and probably strongest) video work, done when he decided to celebrate the start of his new job at the Hamburg Art Academy by sanding down the lecture room floor. For this project he used machinery he had borrowed from a Hamburg parquetry cutter who later received the video in exchange.
This retrospective shows Jankowski’s art not to be prankish or forcefully funny. Instead, it is authentically comical in the best sense of the word. Jankowski stages both the profane and the sublime, and even Nina Hoss becomes part of his show. “A retrospective acquires lightness, when you have someone who introduces fresh air from outside the gallery world,” states Jankowski. The exhibition rooms clearly demonstrate this too: Hoss has a clear, new perspective on the work. She chose the works from a certainly necessary distance. Most of them are good, because they’re more than just clearly polemic. Instead, they are authentically multifaceted. And that’s the essence of real art.
CHRISTIAN JANKOWSKI. RETROSPECTIVE
curated by Nina Hoss
Exhibition: 15/01 – 05/03/2016
Contemporary Fine Arts • Am Kupfergraben 10 • 10117 Berlin • Germany