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Isa Genzken


Using insubstantial commercial materials to depict what seems indestructible, Isa Genzken’s sculptures explore the tension between permanence and transience. Drawing on the legacies of Constructivism and Minimalism and often involving a critical dialogue with Modernist architecture, Genzken’s works comment on the way we build and destroy our environments, which are an expression of hope as well as a monument to our consumption and destructiveness. Following 9/​11, Genzken created a series entitled Empire/​Vampire, Who Kills Death” (2002–03), using her characteristic assortment of disposable materials such as plastic vessels, toy figures, and other detritus to depict scenes of post-apocalyptic devastation and confusion. For her installation Oil, the artist transformed the German Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale into a saturnine and futuristic Gesamtkunstwerk (the German word for total art-work”).