From 1994 to 2003, Isa Genzken worked on a series of sculptures with the form of columns. These tiled blocks are upright sculptures with portions of matter and mirrored material. Standing approximately at human height they are too small to be monuments, but too large to stand on a plinth. They are portraits, each named after a particular person including famous artists and gallerists. The work Dan (1999) forms part of this series and contains the critical and layered gestures that characterize the entirety of Genzken’s work.
Isa Genzken – Installation view ‘Sky Energy’ at David Zwirner, 2018
Referencing punk and subcultures, the surface of Dan is composed of an assemblaged array of banal everyday materials. The colour squares reference the history of art, geometric abstraction, and composition, but the regularity is broken by Genzken’s emphasis on the imperfection of the hand-made. This imperfection is reflected in Dan’s multiplicity.
Isa Genzken – Wolfgang, 1998 (wood, plastic, and metal) Collection Shaw/Gursky Family Trust © Isa Genzken, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin
Although the column is recognizably a single object, the broken reflectivity compels another reading. Dan is a body that acts like a screen, displaying the bodies of visitors in space through a chorus of visual perspectives emanating from its form. _Dan_’s sides collage fragmented singularities and different visual perspectives of the space it inhabits. While Dan is noticeably singular, its identity is fragmented into many. Between being and reflection, Genzken illustrates an interconnected and broken society in which the distance between a and b is an infinite illusion.