During last year’s Sunday fair (a sister event to London’s Frieze), Berlin-based artist Christian Jankowski presented Review, a series of sealed glass bottles containing a rolled-up sheet of paper. Each vessel housed a different note, penned by top art critics like Jörg Heiser (the editor-in-chief of Germany’s edition of Frieze). Jankowski had asked them to hand-write a review of a work he would ultimately create with the reviews, bottled them unread, and sold them at the fair. Their eventual owner is faced with the conundrum of whether to open the bottle and read the presumably sumptuous review, or leave it as an artifact. If he chooses the former, the artist says, he’ll realize upon its unlatching that he has just destroyed a work of art.
Jankowski’s fans know him for his signature (and successful) attempts to dictate the conditions of social collaborations, many of which utilize unsuspecting participants. A filmmaker, photographer, installation, and mixed-media artist, Jankowski employs a similar gesture of Duchamp-like trickery in Discourse News, his latest exhibition at Friedrich Petzel. Jankowski’s Review makes a second appearance, this time consisting of more than one hundred unread review-filled bottles that he’s strewn across the gallery’s main room. In the video Discourse News, NY1 news anchor Annika Pergament reports on Jankowski’s definition of art. Another video, The Eye of Dubai, was made by the artist and his film crew during an inaugural trip to Dubai. They filmed the entire thing blindfolded, and were led around by resident artist Rami Farook. As a whole, the works invite viewers to question the visual and written presentation of contemporary art, and underline the artist’s knack for unpacking popular (often absurd) notions surrounding the discipline.
Discourse News is on view at Friedrich Petzel from June 21 through July 28.