ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Christian Jankowski
* 1968 in Göttingen (DE), lebt in Berlin (DE) und New York (US)

The China Painters
, 2007–2008

In the Chinese community of Dafen, the copying of paintings has become an industry. With the paintings it produces running into the millions, Dafen accounts for a considerable part of the paintings produced worldwide, even if this only finds expression in private living rooms and not at biennials and on the art market among the major auction houses. A place entirely dedicated to art certainly needs a museum as well, and one of these has been built in Dafen – although none of the copied works by Raphael and Wang Guangyi, which may be purchased in the town’s shops, are displayed on its walls.
For his project The China Painters, Christian Jankowski used this peculiar situation of a place for collecting as the place for copying. Instead of the usual artworks, he ordered copies of photographs from the art studios of Dafen, which showed the as yet bare rooms of the unfinished museum. He requested that the artists paint pictures of the works which, in their opinion, ought to be hanging there. In the resulting imaginary museum, family photographs and socialist-realist propaganda meet historic European painting, which was part of the canon in which artists received their predominantly classical training. Between exposed concrete and scaffolding the imaginary museum shows that the question as to what belongs in a museum can only be answered by means of a permanent building site. (JB)

Kunstmarkt TV, 2008

In capitalism, everything is simultaneously a product and a myth: everything must be translatable into monetary value but has to offer something else in addition that appeals directly to our feelings like a promise of happiness, security, or success. This internal conflict of things – having to be at the same time (ex-)changeable and unique – is exceptionally dramatic in contemporary art. Art works have ideational meanings, which only develop within a filigree and often transitory web of aesthetic, political, and art historical references. However, they also possess a market value, which is assigned to them by means of fashions and personae that are just as fleeting and perhaps more random.

The importance and the market value of art thus appear to belong to two worlds between which the work of art switches like a double agent. In Christian Jankowski’s Kunstmarkt TV [Art Market TV] the absurdity of this system is brought to light: For the Art Cologne fair in 2008, the artist hired professional salesmen to sell art live to the paying (TV) audience. At first the relocation of trading in art to the “low-brow” format of a home shopping channel seems amusing; however, when John Dahlke and Khadra Sufi randomly use material values, artist biographies, or their own feelings when looking at art as their sales pitch it seems that only their rhetoric differs from those who operate in the “real” art system. Further, it leaves behind it the uncomfortable question, whether the “special” feature of an art object as a trading commodity actually differs very much from the “special” feature of a vacuum cleaner or an attachment for cordless screwdrivers. (JB)


The China Painters
, 2007–2008


Kunstmarkt TV,