Isa Genzken’s colourful, overpowering sculptures represent a cornucopia of imagery and materials. She is interested in the odds and ends of everyday life, whether the media, consumer goods, design, architecture, or urban environments. Her approach to sculpture as a medium entails destabilizing such traditional qualities as the sculpture’s base, scale, volume, and materiality. Put together as original assemblages and sculptural constructions, her sculptures capture the tension between growth and ruin, creation and destruction, past and future.
Genzken’s versatile practice continues the legacy of constructivism and minimalism, often engaging in a critical, open dialogue with modernist architecture and visual and material culture. Using plaster, cement, construction parts, photographs, and a host of found objects, she creates architectural structures that can be regarded as contemporary ruins.
In Empire Vampire V (C) she lets the base become an architectural foundation for the sculpture. The base is absorbed into the sculpture, and through this approach Genzken breaks from the conventional idea of sculpture, though without abandoning the sculptural heritage entirely. The piece is one of several sculptures where Genzken critically examines the base, not only in the context of art history, but also as a response to the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001. Genzken was in New York at the time and witnessed how vulnerable the architectural foundation of the World Trade Center suddenly became, causing a loss of confidence in economic and political power structures.
Text: Marthe Tveitan
From "Highlights. Art from 1945 to the Present", Nasjonalmuseet 2016, ISBN 978-82-8154-116-0