Isa Genzken, OIL (detail), German Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2007, mixed media, courtesy German Pavilion 2007. Photo: Jan Bitter

Dan Adler: Public Talk

Oil and Fascism: Isa Genzken at the Venice Biennale
Friday, September 27, 2019 | 5:00 pm | FREE
Room 7000 – SFU Harbour Centre, Vancouver

This talk explores Isa Genzken's exhibition "Oil" at the Venice Biennale (2007). Genzken's show included rows of anti monuments: assemblages featuring suitcases, taxidermied owls, toys, posters, and paint splatters. With such makeshift sculptures, Genzken explored mixtures of parodic, satirical, and ironic modes of presentation as means of treating political and topical subject matter-such as imperialism and greed-without losing sight of the perceived impossibility of direct action, hence allowing for the Beckett-like possibility of miscommunication and comic failure. Genzken's approach to assemblage depends on practices of disjunction and repetition that allow for the extended play of irony. Her use of humor reflects a generational resistance to a "politics of realization” – referencing politics without making commitments, and avoiding direct action in favor of a more distanced and parodic skepticism.

Sponsored by the Department of Art History, Visual Art & Theory (UBC), the Institute for the Humanities (SFU), and the School for the Contemporary Arts (SFU), with the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Organized by Claudette Lauzon and Catherine Soussloff.

Dan Adler is Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Arts & Art History at York University in Toronto. His most recent publication is Tainted Goods: Contemporary Sculpture and the Critique of Display Cultures (Routledge 2019), which explores modern and contemporary tendencies toward assemblage. His other books include the monograph Hanne Darboven: Cutural History 1880-1983 (Afterall/MIT Press 2009), and the co-edited volumes German Art History and Scientific Thought: Beyond Formalism (Ashgate 2012) and Parallax: Stereoscopic 3D in Moving Images and Visual Art (Intellect/University of Chicago Press, 2013). A former senior editor of the Bibliography of the History of Art at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, he regularly contributes reviews to Artforum. An alumnus of the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program, he co-curated (with Lesley Johnstone) a Liz Magor retrospective exhibition at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, which traveled in 2017 to the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich; the Kunstverein in Hamburg; and the Musée d'Art Moderne et contemporain in Nice, France. His other curatorial credits include the exhibitions "Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty" (2014) at the Art Gallery of Ontario and "When Hangover Becomes Form: Rachel Harrison and Scott Lyall” (2006) at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE).

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