Kendell Geers

Nato a Johannesburg all’apice dell’apartheid in una famiglia di Boeri della classe operaia, Kendell Geers è cresciuto nella consapevolezza che la sua educazione morale, spirituale e culturale si basava su bugie razziste. Scappato di casa a quindici anni, ha compiuto su sé stesso un’operazione artistica decidendo di spostare la sua data di nascita a maggio del 1968.

Geers partecipa ai movimenti antisegregazionisti e fugge dal regime militare che lo aveva condannato a sei anni di detenzione, raggiungendo Londra nel 1988 come rifugiato politico. Nel 1989 si trasferisce a New York, dove trova impiego come assistente a tempo pieno di Richard Prince. Nel 1990, dopo il rilascio di Nelson Mandela, Geers torna in Sudafrica per aiutare a costruire la nuova democrazia.

Come artista, curatore, musicista, designer e scrittore, Geers lavora senza accettare compromessi. Nella convinzione che l’arte sia tanto politica quanto spirituale, la sua multiforme pratica è irriducibile a mode o cliché. L’energia grezza di un atteggiamento punk si fonde con la filosofia viscerale visionaria di poeti come Rimbaud, Blake e Burroughs in un misterioso cocktail di contrasti.

Dai primi anni Novanta, Geers ha preso parte a diverse esposizioni di risonanza internazionale, tra cui: The Street. Where the world is made e Road to Justice al MAXXI (Roma, 2018 e 2017); Documenta (Kassel, 2017 e 2002); La Biennale di Venezia (2017 e 2007); Shanghai Biennale (2016); Punk. Its Traces in Contemporary Art al MACBA (Barcellona, 2016); Contemporary Art from the Centre Pompidou  alla Haus der Kunst (Monaco, 2016);  INSERT 2014 all’ Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (Delhi, 2014); The Luminous Interval al Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao, 2011); e la Bienal de São Paulo (2010), tra le altre.

Exhibitions

M77 presents OrnAmenTum’EtKriMen, a solo show by South African artist and activist Kendell Geers (Johannesburg, 1968) curated by Danilo Eccher, open to the public from Monday 21 September 2020 to Saturday 30 January 2021.

European by descent, African by birth, Kendell Geers defines himself as both animist and mystic, shaman and alchemist, punk and poet. Committed to the fight against apartheid from a very young age, Geers used his experience as a revolutionary to develop a psycho-socio-political approach in which ethics and aesthetics are viewed as two sides of the same coin spinning on the giant table of history. In his hands, the vast narrative of art is brought into question, the languages of power and ideological codes are disrupted, expectations dashed, and systems of belief are transformed into aesthetic canons.

The contradictions that are intrinsic to the artist’s identity are embodied in his work. His pieces combine personal with political, poetry with misery, violence with erotic tension. Geers works in various media and techniques, ranging from everyday objects to large-scale installations, and comprising the use of neon, performance and video.

The exhibition’s title OrnAmenTum’EtKriMen is based on the 1908 essay Ornament and Crime by Austrian architect Adolf Loos, pioneer of modern architecture who condemned the decorations on the façades of buildings as a useless, even dangerous excess, steering the course of architecture towards the concept of functionality. For M77, Geers embraces Loos’ cultural heritage by interrogating the languages of Minimalism and the model of gallery white cube, throwing aesthetics against the brick wall of experienced and shards of broken ethics.

Through a selection of historic pieces, his newest production and site-specific installations designed to interact with the gallery’s interiors, the artist creates an itinerary in which the juxtaposition of different materials and the powerful impact created by his use of colour and pattern give rise to a series of cross-references and contrasts intended to threaten the cherished beliefs of the observer, consciously or unconsciously immersed in a setting that is indeed attractive but that is in fact inhospitable and potentially dangerous.

OrnAmenTum’EtKriMen is a call to arms, but instead of bullets, love, like art, is a weapon of transformation because « Art Changes the World – One Perception at a Time ».

Works

TW (I.N.R.I.) 204 (Kendell Geers)  

Anno: 1995
Tecnica: Nastro adesivo Chevron su oggetto perduto
Dimensioni: 61 × 36 × 10 cm

Les Fleurs du Mal 8205 (Kendell Geers)

Anno: 2020
Tecnica: Acrilico su carta
Dimensioni: 102 × 66 cm

Les Fleurs du Mal 4012 (Kendell Geers)

Anno: 2020
Tecnica: Acrilico su tela
Dimensioni: 102 × 66 cm

Les Fleurs du Mal 3939 (Kendell Geers)

Anno: 2020
Tecnica: Acrilico su tela
Dimensioni: 160 × 99 cm

Les Fleurs du Mal 1318 (Kendell Geers)

Anno: 2019
Tecnica: Acrilico su tela
Dimensioni: 80 × 80 cm

Garden of Forking Paths 7325 (Kendell Geers)

Anno: 2020
Tecnica: Stampa lenticolare
Dimensioni: 100 × 70 cm

Garden of earthly delights 6712 (Kendell Geers)

Anno: 2020
Tecnica: C-print
Dimensioni: 100 × 70 cm

A Rose by Any Other Name (Kendell Geers)

Anno: 2007
Dimensioni: 60 × 35 cm

 Mutus Liber (Fetish) 7892 (Kendell Geers)

Anno: 2009

 Les Fleurs du Mal 6439 (Kendell Geers)

Anno: 2019
Tecnica: 170 × 105 cm
Dimensioni: Acrilico su tela

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