Bodybuilding (Mies van der Rohe), 2021
Cast concrete, various materials
ca. 2,85 × Ø 4 m
Metzlerpark of Museum Angewandte Kunst – temporary exhibition from June 26 – September 26, 2021
*1968 in Göttingen, Deutschland
1992–1998, Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg, Bachelor of Fine Arts
2015, Kunstpreis Finkenwerder
2013, Heitland Foundation Award
With his eye for contradictions and keen sense of the absurd, Christian Jankowski uncovers social dynamics between art, culture, the entertainment industry, and the global market economy. Now, in Metzlerpark, the artist takes on the conventions of memory culture, construction operation, and the art industry. Externally, his sculpture Bodybuilding (Mies van der Rohe) is disguised as an archaic dwelling, but the interior reveals a reflection on a potential monument honoring a groundbreaking architect.
At first glance, Jankowski’s work seems unassuming. There is a pond, a hill, and an egg-shaped concrete form accessible through a wide gap in its surface. The structure’s hidden aspect is made visible in the transition from exterior to interior: In the cross-section of the outer wall, the profile of a face can be seen—as if a huge head had been rotated 360 degrees on its axis. The protrusions of the forehead, nose, mouth, and chin define the volume of the inner space and depict—as indicated by the title–not just any head, but that of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, an icon of modern architecture.
It is difficult not to notice how little the monument has in common with the architect’s revolutionary formal language. The construction looks massive. The form is organic, not cubic. No steel frame, no glass façade calls to mind that which was generally was associated with van der Rohe’s work. Jankowski’s conceptual and sculptural act of transferal first becomes apparent when taking into consideration the conventional, figural bronze monuments that have been dedicated all over the world to the “heavyweights” of modern architecture: and so, a bronze bust designed by Rolf Biebl to honor Mies van der Rohe, erected in 2012 in Moabit (Berlin,) served as the basis for this work. Biebl’s image of the architect defines the empty space within Jankowski’s habitable sculpture and is just as light and transparent as van der Rohe’s architecture. The decorative character resulting from the concrete’s paper-cut silhouette remains concealed inside–perhaps as a veiled allusion to the architect’s beginnings, during which he worked drawing stucco elements, among other things. Mies van der Rohe’s visage becomes Jankowski’s structure; becomes the architecture itself. In doing so, the design of Bodybuilding (Mies van der Rohe) adheres to the dictum of modern architecture–“form follows function”—and is derived from the sculptural process: For the concrete casting, a hole was dug and then filled with water. The excavated earth formed a hill. The domed building corresponds to the mold of a huge bronze bust. Even the construction material, concrete, can ultimately be understood as a reference to modernism.
Near the sculpture, a construction panel announces that Jankowski’s Bodybuilding concept will be expanded to encompass an entire “architect settlement” including works such as Bodybuilding (Frank Lloyd Wright) and Bodybuilding (Le Corbusier). Bodybuilding (Mies van der Rohe) acts as a prototype, demonstrating how the static concept of the monument can be reimagined and given new life: A circular opening in the dome is reminiscent of the Pantheon as a place of the gods, while also serving the very profane purpose of venting smoke from the hearth below. When the monument is heated at night, Mies van der Rohe’s head materializes as a brilliantly illuminated light sculpture.
kindly supported by:
Friedhelm Dorndorf, Dyckerhoff GmbH, Lisson Gallery, Ralf Gröninger Büro für Tragwerksplanung, Bauunternehmen Schmidt-Diehler, Hubertus von der Wense Garten-und Landschaftsbau, Gießerei Blöcher, Weimer Bau GmbH, Oliver Heinzenberger und Freunde, Tillmann Handle