Stephan Genser

Stephan Genser

2016 | Exhibition catalogue, 56 pages + illustrations and appendix, 19,4×14,1cm

In 2016, the catalogue Stephan Genser was shown, under the artist’s name, in Bremen, GER. This exhibition aroused strong reactions. Genser’s repropriation of authorized pictures was seen as a renewal of the notions of originality and autonomy associated with historical modernism. It was also regarded as an attack on the creator, in this case a female artist, whose desires reflected the epoch. By creating books that obviously infringed upon copyright and were not original, he called his forebears into question as well. His books made the viewer question the historical references of their seemingly self-contained imagery. What pictorially appeared to be meaningful and coherent was disclosed as being contrived (p.29-30)

The book Stephan Genser was created in 2016 to serve as an exhibition catalogue for the artist’s solo show in the Vienna Gallery nächst St. Stephan in May 2028. For it, the artist, who, according to himself, ‘like(s) to take up things sooner rather than later’ used an exhibition catalogue of American Artist Sherrie Levine, who had an exhibition in the same gallery exactly 40 years earlier. Genser, who ‘wanted to save paper’, used white-out and ink to change this catalogue and adapt it to his needs.

The controversial part of this form of appropriation is the fact that Levine herself is known as an Appropriation Artist. Genser appropriated the text written about her work, but not the work itself, which he either exchanged for his own or ‘returned’ it to the original author, an act that he calls Repropriation Art.

Peter Schwarz (Art historian and critic), Vienna 2017