this issue contains
>> Isa Genzken
>> Ola Kohlemainen

>> archive


So does that go for the art, too?

Art is also specific to the respective country. Over the last several years, there's hardly been any good art coming out of Italy or France, that's something I can say for sure. For the moment, German and American art are the best. That's my opinion. And that's not meant in a nationalist way. Right now, it's very complicated and difficult to find something in a country like England that you really like. I don't ask myself: "Now, is this English?" I simply don't care for it. And I think a tremendous amount has happened in Germany since Beuys , or even since Kricke. Norbert Kricke was the first German artist to show at the MoMA, the first German artist with an international reputation. And like Beuys, he is very specifically German. And so am I, for that matter.

Does the difference between men and women play a role for you in art?

It's not that long a time that women have been playing a role in art. Before the 19th century, there was perhaps one or two here or there, but they were never very good. Yet they were touted nonetheless, like the painter Artemisia Gentileschi – they finally had someone who could paint a few brushstrokes. That's changed since then, of course, and in a massive way. The first women who were really good appeared in the Russian avant-garde, Ljubow Popova and Olga Rozanova, for instance. Since then, the problem's pretty much been solved. There are far fewer successful women artists today than their male counterparts, but some of them are extremely good. And they can no longer be ignored.

Isa Genzken, "Weltempfänger", 1987
Installation view
Courtesy Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Köln

Let's talk about Deutsche Bank. A few years ago, for Deutsche Bank's "Moment" series, you worked on a project proposal for a temporary work of art in public space – the "Weltempfänger," which was meant to be realized in New York. At the time, you wanted to install huge antennae on the roof of the AT&T Building.

That's a building that always bothered me. I always thought it looked like a radio or an old sewing machine from the thirties. I never cared for it. On the other hand, I always liked Philip Johnson, the architect who built it, and he knew that. This round hole way up there on the pediment caught my eye. I already said years ago that I was going to put something in there – then at least the situation would change somewhat. The building's design has a threatening effect. And the movement that would suddenly be up there would counteract this quality of being threatening. I wasn't interested in designing something completely new, but in modernizing what was already there. Up until that point, nobody had ever asked me to do that. (laughs) And then, when Deutsche Bank came along, I thought, Deutsche Bank, they have money – Yes! – and they're interested in realizing a project in New York that would change the whole skyline, because the antennae up there were supposed to twirl around, like in a ballet. I still find the project pretty good.

Isa Genzken, Deutsche Bank Proposal, 2000
Installation view: AC Project Room, New York 2000
Courtesy Neugerriemschneider, Berlin

It's a shame that it wasn't realized.

Yes, and I was very disappointed, too. I built a really beautiful model. I flew to New York to take photographs and to think about how it would look. I worked out precise plans with a structural engineer about how to erect the piece. Because I was very interested in the project. And Roger Bundschuh helped me with the process. He's the architect I'm going to be working together with again for the Biennale – in terms of everything, including the question of whether something can be realized or not.

How did you react when you learned that Deutsche Bank was going to be the main sponsor for the pavilion at the Biennale?

My spontaneous reaction was that it made me happy. I find Deutsche Bank to be the most respectable thing about Germany. 'Deutsch' and 'Bank,' I like those two words a lot. I always found Deutsche Bank to be pretty good. I was never a client, though. (laughs)

Isa Genzken, Ohne Titel, 2001, © Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Köln,
Deutsche Bank Collection

Me either, I'm at the Sparkasse.

But if I ever change my account, I'm going to switch to Deutsche Bank. They have branches in New York, too, you can even go to the bank there. There's no Sparkasse in New York! (laughs) But I mean that seriously about the bank. I was really delighted about Deutsche Bank sponsoring the Biennale.

[1] [2]