Prompted by Josephine Meckseper’s work, artist and writer Gareth James speaks to the theoretical and experimental methodologies that underpin his own practice to investigate the artistic considerations which emerge when one artist considers the work of another.
This series invites cultural and critical producers to present thoughts and ideas rooted in their own interests and practices, and invites audiences to join in the conversations that will explore relevant contemporary issues, theories, ideas and culture.
American Leg was Josephine Meckseper’s first exhibition in Canada. For the site-specific work, Meckseper created eight self-contained window treatments in the Contemporary Art Gallery’s street-front vitrines. Originally intended for retail, these window spaces served as ready-made structures for Meckseper’s ongoing investigation into consumer society and archaeology of the present.
Meckseper’s work unites modernism with the formal language of commercial display, combining mass-produced objects with images and artifacts of recent historical and political events. Consumerism as an unrelenting presence in our daily lives is reflected in the artist’s highly polished sculptural installations which offer a critique of capitalist economy and lay bare some of its contradictions.
In her installation for the CAG, she refined each window into austere compositions of single sculptures centred against a black background. A repeated vertical text graphically set in a typeface referencing German Jugendstil added a further critical dimension as well as carried a personal resonance for Meckseper. The text’s aesthetic was appropriated from elements of early 20th Jugendstil architecture in Worpswede, Germany where her great great uncle, Heinrich Vogeler lead a utopian artist movement. Meckseper’s connection of contemporary consumer culture to Jugendstil is its development as a form of aesthetic and political resistance to the mainstream.MORE
Beginning May 25 through September 2 2012, Josephine Meckseper will create eight new works for the window vitrines on the CAG’s exterior. Currently based in New York, this will be Meckseper’s first exhibition in Canada. Utilizing these spaces as a site that mimics a commercial display, her work invites a critique of the aesthetic and political connotations of the objects presented within. The juxtapositions of materials and objects in her installations compose a kind of narrative that challenge the world of advertising and consumer culture.
Below is an interview with Josephine Meckseper and Flavin Judd from Bomb Magazine speaking about her work and practice.
Karina Irvine – Curatorial InternMORE
Edited by Rachel Hooper, Gail Kirkpatrick, Heike Munder. Text by Sylvère Lotringer.
In her photography, videos and installations, Josephine Meckseper (born 1964) sets images of political activism—photographs of demonstrations, newspaper cuttings—against twinkling consumer goods and advertising motifs. This publication concentrates on a new series of works, such as the installation Ten High (2007) in which silver mannequins bear anti-war slogans.