About the author
How does one find a powerful individuality in their art? In our day and age, it can be near impossible to get your voice heard. Yet, Isa Genzken is described as one of the most influential artists over the last forty years, notably for her uncompromising take on conceptual art. Rooted in sculpture, she combines and creates in many mediums. Her work challenges boundaries in its unconventionality and innovativeness. It’s bold, breathtaking and largely autobiographical.
I always wanted to have the courage to do totally crazy, impossible and also wrong things. (Isa Genzken, 1994)
I had the pleasure to take in her comprehensive exhibition with another creative who dares to push their discipline further than most: Marty Marn, photographer of the wildness that goes on after hours. He coined the ‘Champagne Facial’; his out-there party photography is sexual, outrageous and fun. He gets rid of ‘wannabe-classy’ and gets the fun out.
Both Genzken and Marty Marn manifest a sense of ‘instancy’. Capturing a moment in time that evokes a strong response, whether absurd, political, or depicting the uglier side of society. They’re overt commentators on the world we find ourselves in.
Marty Marn describes himself as part autonomy lifestyle, part bullshit and portrait photographer. He comes from a magazine designer background and was influenced along the way (in Shanghai, of all places!) to a new point of view to photography. “I give them an assignment, pushing people over their boundaries. That’s why I don’t consider my work a normal party pic.” Out of context, it’s hard to imagine the nakedness, unbridled sexuality and crazy that goes on at these parties. It’s largely up to his orchestration, his ability to sculpt the perfect picture at an event or in the studio. Similar to how Genzken orchestrates her sculptures: boldly commenting on the world. “She’s aware of herself, a feminist. She connects herself to the Mona Lisa in some of her work. She starts with something ‘everyday’ and makes it extraordinary”.
When I ask which piece evokes him the most, he answers “She puts all of herself in her work. I see structure, but it’s chaotic. When she has an idea, she runs with it. Pushes it together. Pulls it. Builds on it… then gets to a point where she stands back and says ‘Yes, that’s done.’”
One room stages her radical computer-designed sculptures from the early ’70s, along with ear portraiture and a Genzkenised clothing line. “The quiet in the room makes a silent announcement. She’s overplaying the silence, surprising for her normal characteristic. The silence talks to me.”
Another room housed towering architectural sculptures, a crowded colourful city pertaining, the curator told us, to the events of 9/11. Multiple works of hers return to this theme. One glass tower structure in particular caught his attention. “She gives a flavor of an era. I get what she’s trying to say. The glass… She sees how fragile we are. The film roll represents the media getting to it. Antennas hear everything.”
The day after 9/11 Marty Marn was hit by a subway train. “It’s OK,“ he assures me, “I’m still here.” Whilst he was in hospital he remembers hearing of nothing else, just the medias coverage of the attacks. How they multiply everything. The hype. “Every story has two sides,” he says.
“Recommended for people who are open to seeing unusual points of view. Architecture. Silence. Chaos. Stillness. Fire. All emotions. The order of the exhibition. It’s chaotic; she sees the world clearly, but chooses to play her work unexpectedly”. And that’s what great art does – it beckons us to question. It begins a conversation.
Isa Genzken: Mach Dich Hubsch!
Where: Stedelijk Museum, Museumplein 10
When: Until March 6
Entrance: Adults € 15,- | Students/CJP €7,50 | Museumkaart free
More info: Website
Photography by Marty Marn Photography.
Text by Daniella Down.
Feature image courtesy of First Day Of Spring
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