The Holy Artwork

Christian Jankowski

Exhibition: Jul 16 – Sep 9, 2001

Christian Jankowski is interested in dialogue and communication. But what happens when art intersects with magic, fortune-telling, psychology, and religion? Orchestrating improbable encounters between individuals in seemingly unrelated fields, Jankowski allows the unpredictable nature of human interaction to shape his work.

The performative structure of Jankowski’s projects—resulting primarily in video, photographs, and installation—blurs the distinctions between the staged and the real. Whether by having a magician turn him into a dove for the duration of an exhibition (My Life As a Dove, 1996), or asking a television psychic if his work will be successful (Telemistica, 1999), or going to a therapist to analyze his inability to make new work (Desperately Seeking Artwork, 1997), Jankowski transforms existing cultural structures into environments that clearly exhibit artifice yet occur in reality. The resulting artwork materializes from the process itself.

For his residency at ArtPace, Jankowski continues his personal inquiry into the potential of exchange. Like his previous projects, the artist draws from surrounding social and cultural conditions to construct a framework of discussion. Approaching a religious leader in the San Antonio area, Jankowski poses the ultimate question: what makes a work of art holy? The piece is formed by the ensuing dialogue between artist and minister, each bringing their expertise and experience to the conversation. Leaving room for poetics, humor, irony, and sincerity, the work addresses questions of spirituality and the divine. What may seem an unlikely topic for contemporary art in the 21st century, in fact, generates a larger narrative about artistic inspiration and transformation. Videotaped in the format of an evangelical television program,

The Holy Artwork evokes the legacy of religious art while presenting a contemporary take on the religiosity of art (or perhaps the art of religiosity) in today’s society.


Christian Jankowski

Berlin, Germany

Berlin based artist, Christian Jankowski was born in 1968 in Gottingen, Germany. Schooled at the Academy of Fine Arts, Hamburg, Jankowski gained international recognition in the 48th Venice Biennale curated by Harald Szeemann in 1999. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions throughout Europe including De Appel, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2000); Kolnishcher Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany (1999); Goethe Institute, Paris, France (1999); H. M. Klosterfelde, Hamburg, Germany (1998); Portikus, Frankfurt, Germany (1998); and Art Node, Stockholm, Sweden (1997). Group exhibitions include the 2nd Berlin Biennale, Germany (2001); The National Gallery Prize, Hamburger Bahnhof–Museum der Gegenwart, Berlin, Germany (2000); Crash, ICA, London, England (1999); German Open 1999, Gegenwartskunst in Deutschland, Kunstmuseum, Wolfsburg, Germany (1999); l’autre, Biennale de Lyon, France; among many others. He made his U.S. debut in 2000 at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT as part of their MATRIX exhibition program for contemporary art. His work can be seen in upcoming shows at Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA; Michelle Maccarone Gallery, New York, NY; and the Swiss Institute, New York, NY.
Christian Jankowski’s conceptually based work is derived from performative intersections of seemingly disparate worlds. Using cultural and social idiosyncrasies, Jankowski explores the contingent nature of meaning and interpretation through a constant play of fictionalized reality. Documented through video, photographs, and installation, the work instigates a larger dialogue on the nature of art and the role of the artist.
Christian Jankowski was chosen for his ArtPace residency by Lisa Corrin, Chief Curator at the Serpentine Gallery, London, England. She has organized a number of significant shows for the Serpentine including solo exhibitions by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Jane and Louise Wilson, Chris Ofili, Shirin Neshat, and an upcoming show of Rachael Whiteread. Corrin was recently appointed Deputy Director for Art/Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum, WA.

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Lisa Corrin

London, UK