On the occasion of curated by_vienna 2012 Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman presents its second exhibition dedicated to the artist Jürgen Klauke.

The exhibition will present both historical works from the 1970-80’s and the 16 meter “Schlachtfelder” (2010) tableau which is composed of 144 photographs which address absence and presence, inside and outside, beauty and ugliness. These dualities of life and death have long been a conceptual counterpoint in the work of Klauke.

The work of Cologne-based artist Jürgen Klauke has functioned in relation to the theme of “Art or Life”, since the early 1970’s. He has played a pivitol role in the development and history of Performance and Body Art. By questioning gender roles through his performative acts in front of the camera, he disrupts our notions of the self-portrait, by creating ‘social pictures’ which incorporate both reflections of the other and the gaze that takes them in, containing social and psychological distortions, sometimes carried to the point of the grotesque.

Jürgen Klauke, born in 1943, has been living and working in Cologne since 1968, and from 1994 to 2008 was a professor at the Academy of Media Arts there. In 1995, he received the Cultural Award of the Sparkassen Rhineland Cultural Foundation.

Important exhibitions a.o.: 2010/11 ZKM Karlsruhe (Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie) and Museum der Moderne Mönchsberg Salzburg the exhibition Aesthetische Paranoia Fotoarbeiten, Video- und Sprachräume 2004-2010, 2011 Centre Georges Pompidou, 2005 Kunstmuseum Luzern, 2004 Moscow House of Photography, 2002 Hamburger Kunsthalle, 1987 Museum Ludwig in Köln.

Klauke has chosen photography to be his means of expression, to take a second look at himself and the world, to explore possibilities and boundaries. A long time before his first performance, in 1975, he had, in 1970, begun with his photographic enactments, such as Physiognomien or Selfperformance (1972). In his early works the artist, in an aggressive and subversive manner, deals with predetermined sexual patterns and codes of behaviour, while later on he represents an aesthetic claim that can neither be found elsewhere in contemporary art nor can it be traced back to any artistic movement of the past.

… The human body stands at the heart of my work which, most fittingly, I might designate as an “aestheticising of the existential.” In the seventies, my pictures e.g. dealt with suspending, and extending on, the social coding of gender. The transformer as reshaper. I explode sexual identity, intervene and expand, to see what could be far beyond reality. My body as a projection surface, long before the gender debate. The reshapings, however, are not restricted to sexual typologies only, what is deconstructed in the process are also social and political phenomena. My body remains the material of my work. It is visually present again and again in the major work groups of the past decades. To me it is a carrier of thought, an amplifier, or a surrogate. …

On the group of works entitled “Schlachtfelder” (lit. Battlefields): …In the monumental photographic work there are echoes of the still life, of vanitas and memento mori. My intention with this monumental work was to take some of the terror out of the terrible, without denouncing the terror. I make myself an image of the insecurity and the fragility of our existence and of our mortality. We never have experienced death, so I move within zones of the unthinkable or unspeakable. In the pictures the interior, the shapeless, the amorphous, the functionless rest is intersected by empty, swinging chairs and performative sections and segments of my body that whisper of present absence or absent presence. Pictures for the alien territory of death and the coldness of being. …

(Jürgen Klauke in El Pais, 2012)


TEXT von Brigitte Borchhardt-Birbaumer Der gute Ennui. Beitrag zur dunklen Leerstelle