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.
the difference between men and women play a role for you in art?
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
Genzken, "Weltempfänger", 1987
Courtesy Galerie Daniel
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
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,
Installation view: AC
Project Room, New York 2000
It's a shame that it wasn't realized.
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.
did you react when you learned that Deutsche Bank was going to be the main
sponsor for the pavilion at the Biennale?
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,
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.