Jochen Gerz, Germany | 1940-

Extract from "Footing"

While studying in Cologne, London and Basel, Jochen Gerz became interested in poetry. As early as 1959 he was a writer and translator; gradually his texts became more and more visual, until by 1966, the year he settled in Paris, he joined the visual poetry movement. In 1968 he co-founded, with Jean-François Bory, the alternative editorial group Agentzia. Gerz would henceforth explore several artistic paths at the same time, always keenly critiquing the media and desiring to involve the spectator in the creative process. Since 1969, several of his photo/text works have played off the tension between photographs (most often black and white, but in colour since 1987) and critical texts. After 1968, Gerz would question, in several installations, the cultural and social function of Western culture, critiquing not only the limits of media efficacy but also the written word, photography, and video… In 1976, Gerz represented Germany in the Venice Biennale and, in 1977 and 1987, participated in Documenta 6 and 7 in Kassel. In the 1980s, the artist was commissioned to create several monuments in which he would subvert the idea of commemoration, turning spectators into actors: Monument against Fascism, Harburg, 1986; Bremen Questionnaire, Bremen, 1990; 2,146 Stones Monument Against Racism, Sarrebrück, 1990-93; The Living Monument, Biron, 1997"