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Lacanian Biology
and the Event
of the Body

Gender and Sexuation

The Great Divide

The Absence of
the 20th Century

Il n'y a pas de
rapport religieux


Rosemarie Trockel

The Ballad of
Ion Lupescu


The Absence of the 20th Century


Gérard Wajcman
translated by Jorge Jauregui

Since the dawn of the last century, art has been directed by a basic movement, which can be traced to Duchamp and Malevich. From this perspective I approach Jochen Gerz, an artist of the late 20th century. An artist at the end. I will discuss three works in his oeuvre which illuminate an essential aspect of this past century. The hidden face of the 20th century.


To say that Jochen Gerz is an "artist," may need some clarification. An "artist" that does not draw, does not paint, and does not sculpt. He passes his time speaking on the telephone, answering the mail, surfing the net, sending faxes and things of this sort. He is not preoccupied with beauty, he does not create objects in the usual sense. He does not make art in the way we habitually assume. Nevertheless Gerz is an artist. Modern? It's called "conceptual."

Like all authentic works, his is exceptional and asserts itself by way of its very exceptionalness.

This seems so evident that, at first sight - and first wonder - his work appears to run counter to what I would propound as the prevailing movement in modern art. Thus these art works evince an unequivocal rapport to the signifier, or to symbols: monuments. One way or the other, every monument is a monument to the social order; in any case, monuments bear on the signifier of power since they are tied to a public commissions. For Gerz, funding has come from the Saarland, the cities of Hamburg and Bremen, the town hall at Biron, a charming village in Dordogne, etc.

These curious monuments, they certainly exist, yet the essence of their subject matter remains somehow tricky to define. Like all monuments they deal with memory, yet it is as if, on their behalf, you must take literally the proposal "making work by memory." Their subject matter is memory, much as others erect edifices in concrete or in iron.

Finally, a last curiosity, but not least, these works do not call upon an a priori debate on resemblance, because, apart from them not resembling works of art, they essentially - each in its own way - put forward nothing to see.



Art: Jochen Gerz, study for The Living Monument, 1995/96
2146 Stones-Monument against Racism, 1990-93

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