isa genzken

Excerpts from Sketches for a Movie, and Other Writings

Düsseldorf, February 1978
Art Academy, End of Semester Party

Klaus Rinke sends out invitations to a large Academy party. Certain classrooms are brightly and wildly decked out. Real animals are running and flying around the halls, letting out loud and primal noises. One sees, in fact, elephants, monkeys, giraffes and birds. All the rooms and halls are stuffed with people and animals. Isa came with her friend Anna from Chicago. At first they both are completely confused. On the 2nd floor, there is a bar. Around it stand a few former student friends like Thomas Schütte, Thomas Struth, and Gerhard Martini. Across from this bar, a sect bar is being set up. There stands her former teacher, Gerhard Richter, along with other professors. G.R. calls: "Hello, Ms. Genzken, it's been a while, good to see you again, how are things? Can I offer you and your friend a glass of Sekt [champagne]?" I.G.: "Yeah, great." After a few more rounds of Sekt, he says to her: "Ms. Genzken, I really would like to dance with you sometime."

New York, "Kiev," a Russian restaurant, December 1979

Dan Graham and Isa are sitting together and talking.
Dan: "You should go to Crazy Eddy's. They have all the things very cheap there, tape recorders, cameras, and so on. If you want, I'll go with you. Also tonight there is a concert at the Pyramid Club. Kim [Gordon] and Thursten [Moore] are playing maybe very late, but you should definitely go there. I know you will like it, you should take your camera with you." Isa: "O.K., I'll go. Are you coming, too? Dan, I have to tell you, your work has really changed a lot in the last time from video to architecture. The last two pavilions you did, I love them. They have a psychedelic quality. They are a real surprise! The social aspect in it is very sublime to me. It's more romantic and has a family function in it." Dan: "Isa, you are very nice to me." Isa: "I know you long enough to know your needs." Dan: "O.K., let's go."

XVII -1-
Cologne, in March 1988

Isa and Gerhard are sitting together in their kitchen drinking wine. Isa.: "Gerhard, the question actually occupying me the most is, why you love me." Gerhard smiles: "It's too complex, that is such an open field, there is no answer to that." Isa: "Yeah, yeah, there sure could be some sort of an answer for that, even if it is so complicated." Gerhard: "You just have to remember that today I have a cold." Isa: "But it could be that something about that comes to you" Gerhard watches her for a while. Isa: "It's always just about one single answer in all the confusion that one always has." Gerhard says to me in a very decided tone: "Because I need you!" Isa: "That's nice, that makes me happy." Gerhard: "So it seems." Isa: "It's the same for me. But sometimes I have the feeling, maybe I'm mixing it up too, but my feeling is that we are a really special couple." Gerhard: "Well, in history there have been a lot of special couples already. It could be, though we can't tell yet, and that doesn't especially appeal to me because that, for me, is always tied to tragedy, and that scares me, and so I would rather not be a special couple.

(XV, XVI, XVII -1- excerpted from Isa Genzken, Sketches for a Movie, Kunsthalle Bremen, 1993.)

Ghent, December 1993
Conversation with Paul Robbrecht, the architect for documenta 9

Paul Robbrecht: When did you then make your first model for a public sculpture?

Isa Genzken: The first project was really half public. I made a small concrete recluse with no roof for a garden. The street noise should disappear in it and you should only see sky and trees.

PR: From their conception, all your outdoor projects, in a positive sense, depend on their environment.

IG: I've always tried somehow to pick up on proportions or forms which already exist, so that the insertion seems natural and not like a sculptural foreign body.

PR: For you, often uglier situations have been more interesting than beautiful ones. Look at Ring in Rotterdam, Tulips by the autobahn near Amsterdam, and ABC in Münster.

IG: When the surrounding is not so beautiful, one can make a highlight more easily and with that improve the entire situation.

PR: What are the most important rules for you for an outdoor sculpture?

IG: Actually, they shouldn't take away any place and bother no one. It can be small or monumental, that has a lot to do with its environment. Mostly, I work together with structural engineers to calculate the very least masses, so that nothing appears superfluous. That's how I worked in 1992 on the Mirror in Bielefeld too, a steel frame that despite its outer measure of twenty by thirty meters stands lightly and filigree-like in its place, and seems to reflect its environment.

Cologne, February 1994

I've always thought that fine art is the most important art form of all. Sometimes I thought that it might be music because it's so popular. But I think that fine art is so important because it basically has no popularity. What is important, nobody recognizes, nobody sees, and it is only seen in hindsight. That means basically a higher form of intelligence or quotient. Naturally, music is also extremely important because it acts like a relaxant. I always wanted to have the courage to do totally crazy, impossible and also wrong things. In 1992, I shot the 16mm architectural film Chicago Drive [23 min] which attempted to continue my work in public sculptures in an extended sense. Since that time, I started to work on a script for a film that is mainly about the theme of child abuse and science fiction. Film is, for me, the connection between all the arts and possibly the most public art form since it is seen the most. That makes film so attractive, to develop really new ideas for it.

Text: © Copyright, Journal of Contemporary Art, Inc. and Isa Genzken.