Born 1948, Bad Oldesloe, Germany
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany
Isa Genzken's sculpture is concerned with what surrounds us and shapes our
everyday existence, from design, advertising, and the media to her most enduring
subject, architecture and the urban environment. The artist is interested in the
ways in which aesthetic styles—the unadorned angularity of modernist architecture
for example—embody and enforce political and social ideologies. Genzken began the
Empire/Vampire, Who Kills Death sculptures shown here after the September 2001
attacks on the World Trade Center. In this series, she directly confronts the themes
of architecture, power, and terror. Much like scenes from a film, these sculptures
comprise self-contained stages for invented scenarios: ruins of architecture and the
built environment are peopled with figures trying to navigate the devastation. The
materials seem scavenged from the detritus of some post-apocalyptic landscape; old
sneakers, gnarled metal, discarded clothing, and mirrored tiles are arranged in dioramas
depicting turbulent struggles within the ruins of an industrialized society. The twisted,
gouged, crumbling forms seem to embody a sense that humanity can be felled by the very
buildings we construct to shelter us.
Isa Genzken: 1992–2003. Exhibition catalogue. Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, in association with Kunsthalle Zurich, and Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach, Germany, 2003.
Isa Genzken: Wolfgang-Hahn-Preis 2002. Exhibition catalogue. Cologne: Gesellschaft für moderne Kunst am Museum Ludwig e.V., 2002.
Parkett, no. 69 (2004): 62–103. Special section, including essays by Jörg Heiser, Michael Krajewski, and Pamela M. Lee.
Seidel, Martin. "Isa Genzken: Stadtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach." Kunstforum International 163 (January–February 2003): 312–14.
Williams, Gregory. "Isa Genzken: Kunsthalle Zurich." Artforum 42, no. 1 (September 2003): 234–35.