Christian Jankowski’s practice consists of performative interactions between himself and non-art professionals, collaborating with individuals from various fields such as magicians, politicians, new anchors and members of the Vatican. Granting each of his participants the possibility to possess their own degree of control over the outcome of the work, the exchanges give insight into society’s popular understanding of art. Predominantly using photographic, video and printed mediums to document these performative interactions, his works reflect, deconstruct and critique a society of spectacle and the art world itself.
Jankowski’s recent solo exhibitions include “Christian Jankowski, I Was Told To Go With The Flow” at Kunstalle Tübingen, Germany (2022); “Sender and Reciever”, Fluentum, Berlin (2020); “Floating World”, Kyoto City University of Arts, Kyoto (2018). Jankowski has participated in the 48th and 55th Venice Biennale (1999 and 2013), and the Whitney Biennial, New York (2002) and was also the first artist to curate Manifesta 11, Zurich (2016). Jankowski’s works are collected by the Metropolitan Museum, New York; Tate, London; MOCA, Los Angeles amongst others.
Jankowski currently lives in Berlin and works internationally.
Defense Mechanism / 2022
Jankowski recently stages Defense Mechanism where the two meanings of “Defense Mechanism,” one psychoanalytical and one military, collapse into a stark encounter. A special unit of the Romanian military forces its way into a flat, secure the perimeter, and finally realize that they are in a psychotherapist’s room. The psychotherapist enters and starts a session with the armed soldiers. They begin with questions about security, defense, cohesion, fear, and the military’s poor public image, leading to questions about being as an individual and in a collective.
Massage Masters / 2017
For the video work Massage Masters (2017), Jankowski invited esteemed massage therapists from the Tokyo area to diagnose the ailments of Yokohama’s public sculptures and treat them according to various massage traditions. Each massage practitioner chose the sculpture best suited to their own technique, attempting to identify and alleviate the tension within the sculpture. Against a sanitary institutional context where art is displayed and consumed, Jankowski seeks an intimate public that is haptic, affective, and healing.
Telemistica / 1999
Telemistica was Jankowski’s contribution to the 48th Venice Biennale. The artist learnt Italian and called five Italian TV fortune-tellers, asking them concerns common to many artists. The televised interaction was mostly affirmative, as the fortune tellers in their vague ways correctly predicted the work’s success for the artist’s career. In its lasting relevance, Telemistica speaks to human reliance on mystical forces in face of uncertainty and crises, aptly predicting the contemporary turn to astrology and the occult.
Die Jagd/The Hunt / 1992
In one of his earliest works, Die Jagd / The Hunt (1992), Jankowski attempts to rebel against modern society and return to the prehistorical ways of the hunter. Armed heroically with a bow and arrow, Jankowski shot down frozen chickens, butter, toilet paper, and various other essentials in the supermarket. Instead of stalking animal preys, he eyed and avoided supermarket security cameras. Despite having arrows sticking out of his bargain hunt, he must pay like everyone else at the checkout counter, yet a quiet acquiescence to the capitalist order he plays in.