The Städel Museum presented a solo exhibition dedicated to Marc Brandenburg. Approximately 130 drawings and one video work were shown in a site-specific installation: Shrouded in black light, Brandenburg’s drawings, inverted into the negative, are reminiscent of a visual diary of thoughts, memories, and sensory impressions from the last thirty years.
At the centre of Marc Brandenburg’s artistic work is the drawing. Since the early 1990s, the artist has been developing his graphic œuvre, which can also be understood as an almost endless series. To these ends, he resorts to the simplest means: the camera, a photocopier, later a computer, as well as paper and pencil. The starting point for his drawings are mainly photographs he has taken himself, as well as material from other sources. With the help of the copier or an image processing programme, he inverts these photographs and transfers the resulting negative motifs onto the drawings. At times, he precisely executes the background, while at other times the motif is left free; it is occasionally mounted on the empty pictorial background so that it seems to float in space. The presentation of his works in black light adds an additional layer to the pencil drawings and unifies the different contents into a single flood of images—or, as the exhibition title describes it: a Hirnsturm (Brainstorm). The artist encounters the subjects and protagonists of his motifs in his own urban environment: from banal objects such as plastic toys, idols from pop culture, and costumed people who seem to have mutated into fantasy creatures, as well as demonstrators and the sleeping places of homeless people. A sense of ambiguity always resonates. Cheerful subjects can seem abysmal, while oppressive living environments radiate a peculiar beauty. Brandenburg does not judge, but rather merely records what he sees.
His video installation Camouflage Pullover from 2018 also deals bluntly with the realities of life. Brandenburg looks from the perspective of a German, gay person of colour at a world marked by racism and prejudice: By concealing performers with a simple jumper with knitted-on, racist-stereotypical faces and hands, he relentlessly exposes these grievances. Who is really behind the mask remains hidden from passers-by—an only ostensibly playful questioning of identities that many people are not able to do in real life.
Curator Städel Museum: Svenja Grosser (Deputy Head of Contemporary Art)
Concept: Sara Bernshausen (Deputy Director PalaisPopulaire) together with Marc Brandenburg
An exhibition in collaboration with PalaisPopulaire, Berlin