In Germany Marcel Odenbach, who since 2010 has been holding a professorship for film and video at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, is mostly known as one of the pioneers and most important exponents of video art. During the last 35 years, the artist has developed a specific iconography for dealing with a well-defined range of topics. His videos often examine the construction and definition of individuality which is constantly seen in the context of historical processes and cultural identities. While Odenbach has established himself a profile as a video artist well known among the public interested in art, his comprehensive graphic oeuvre still remains rather undiscovered in Europe. Until now, his graphic work has only been received fragmentarily, which seems surprising considering the many parallels between his videos and his works on paper.
The exhibition in Bonn, developed in close cooperation with the artist, aims at redressing this imbalance by presenting the artist as a drawer and collagist so comprehensively for the first time. The exhibition is going to include works from all creative periods, starting with works from the mid-1970s in which Odenbach describes his living environment and his relation to the world in a succinctly ironic way by means of drawings that combine text and image, discourse and visuality.
These drawings prefigure Odenbachs collages of the 1980s, which on the one hand are drafts for his video installations, yet on the other hand they function as autonomous combinations of text and image. The defining feature of these works is their collagistic concept, combining numerous individual decisions to one homogeneous work. Nothing is as it seems Odenbachs art requires a reflective way of seeing, an active viewer, especially when it comes to his latest paper cutouts / collages. The viewers are asked to not content themselves with a general overview, but to pay attention to the details which often tell a completely different story than can be seen at first glance. This is especially true for his African motifs, which behind their exotic façade reveal the cruelties of colonialism. Odenbachs work thus combines a sensual appearance with a progressive attitude, visuality with conceptuality and idolatry with iconoclasm in a way that is so consequent that the picture is being given completely new significance.
The exhibition, taking place at the Kunstmuseum Bonn
in the year of the artists 60th birthday will be accompanied by a substantial catalogue with essays by Stephan Berg and Christoph Schreier. In addition, the Kunstmuseum Bonn is planning a catalogue raisonné on Marcel Odenbachs works on paper which is to be published during the runtime of the exhibition.