The Lehmbruck Museum Duisburg does not host a retrospective by Jochen Gerz. This exhibition is neither an exhibition nor does it take place inside the museum: THE WALK, a 100-
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This is Jochen Gerz’s first museum show in 15 years. Gerz is one of a number of artists who, since the beginning of modernity, have condemned museum practice and eschewed the commercial dictates of the art world. The Duisburg exhibition was preceded by two years of intense discussion, doubt and self-
THE WALK’s central theme are eight decades of contemporaneity, linking personal experience and contemporary history. One aspect of the exhibition, which starts with the war, are migration and mobility. The artist and the museum have invited people who fled from wars in their home countries to act as mediators at the museum.
THE WALK describes a path—the artist’s as well as the visitor’s—through turbulent times: the war, the 1950s “stone age” of the Federal Republic of Germany, the birth of civil society in the 1960s, the topos of memory in the 1970s, the technological invasions of everyday life, the discovery of sustainability and Europe’s increasingly unstable perspective from the 1980s and 1990s to the present day. Someone narrates his life, is the author of this story, and at the same time asks: how do you experience this time? Is this your story? How do you imagine our future? Authorship means contemporaneity. If you want to see yourself in the world you must become its author. THE WALK is a shared path, even though each of us walks it alone.
Jochen Gerz (*1940) is one of the most radical internationally renowned artists of his generation. He spent his youth in the Rhineland, where he laid the foundations for an unusual shift from literary to artistic creation. THE WALK completes a circle which began at the Lehmbruck Museum in 1975—one year before he represented, along with Joseph Beuys and Rainer Ruthenbeck, Germany at the 37th Venice Biennale—with a first comprehensive show of his works. Even at the time, he closely examined the institution of the museum. Gerz has consistently questioned the purpose of art—including his own.
For the German artist who has lived abroad since 1958, the public is the result of social creativity: a work authored by all of us—not just by the “happy few,” as opposed to those who consume or are governed. In consequence, Gerz has returned to the street again and again. The social role of authorship is central to his work, from his photo/texts, performances and installations to the counter-
Exhibition September 23, 2018 -
© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2018. All Rights Reserved
View of Jochen Gerz, THE WALK – No Retrospective, Lehmbruck Museum Duisburg, 2018. Photo: Sonja Rothweiler. © Jochen Gerz, VG Bild-