“Please stop, you’re boring me to death!”, “Congratulations”, “Made with love”, “Love it. €”, “Outstanding”, “Keep it up”, “Merci”—messages of every kind, names scribbled in ballpoint pen, poetically original notes, confessions, long, rambling letters, praise and critique all provide insights into the feelings and thoughts of visitors. Comments on people, activities, and services are not just posted in social media but also written in guest books at museums, hotels, and restaurants. The guest book is an intimate but at the same time public space where the present becomes a memory in the moment of writing. In written dialog with an unknown counterpart, visitors give individual expression to their experiences—and provide suggestions and entertainment to the readers who follow.
Since 2010, Christian Jankowski has been reproducing selected drawings and written remarks found in the guest books of renowned art institutions. Visitors is an ongoing series of works in which he takes positive as well as negative comments on exhibitions and institutions as the basis for neon sculptures. Jankowski created the sculpture Merci (2019) for C/O Berlin as part of this series. In the other six works on display, however, author, exhibition, and institution remain unnamed. Contrary to aesthetic conventions and the notion of authorship, Jankowski withdraws from view as the artistic genius, and the exhibition visitors themselves become the authors of the artwork. In many of his pieces, the engagement of the public as collaborators is central to the work itself. He often raises questions about representation in a playful way. At the same time, Jankowski navigates a fine line between qualitative judgment, illumination of the mechanisms of production, and the right of interpretation within and outside the art industry. The central question remains that of the image itself. What is art? Who is the author? And who is the consumer?
Christian Jankowski is the fifth artist to be featured as part of of C/O Berlin Café’s expanded spatial and exhibition concept at the Amerika Haus. He was preceded by Gregor Hildebrandt (2018), Brigitte Waldach (2017), Karsten Konrad (2016), and Michail Pirgelis (2015).
(b. 1968) studied at the University of Fine Arts, Hamburg (HFBK). Jankowski’s works are part of important public and private collections, and his work has been shown in numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, including most recently Floating World, @KCUA, Kyoto (2018), Petzel Gallery, New York (2018), Die Legende des Künstlers und andere Baustellen, Haus am Lützowplatz, Berlin (2016), Christian Jankowski. Retrospective, Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin (2016), Heavy Weight History, CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (2013). In 2016, Jankowski became the first artist to curate the Manifesta in Zurich. He lives and works in Berlin.