Biography of Christian Jankowski
The award-winning work of Christian Jankowski is almost always collaborative in nature and based on interactions with non-artworld counterparts, including bankers, weight-lifting champions, cleaning companies, porn studios or horror film producers. Often incorporating chance, accident, and spur of the moment decisions into the finished artwork, Jankowski never fulfils a brief as expected, identifying contemporary phenomena that interest him and cleverly inverting their meaning. An artist firmly rooted in his own age, Jankowski often plays with different forms of audiovisual communication and in particular uses television formats such as the soap opera, casting shows, news programs or adverts to frame his artworks, employing the very materials of popular culture to make statements about popular culture.
The word irony is often used to describe Christian Jankowski's work, a term the artist himself dislikes, as he does not aim to mock the system as much as simply draw attention to its existence. His work Casting Jesus, 2011, for instance, has often been read as a blistering critique of the Catholic Church, yet Jankowski strongly protests against this interpretation, insisting that the collaboration between himself and members of the Vatican was of the utmost respect and that his project aimed to explore rather than to ridicule Christianity. Indeed, the two channel video installation has been screened in several religious contexts, including the Complesso Santo Spirito in Sassia, Rome, the Kapuzinerkirche Paderborn, Germany, and the Katholische Akademie Schwerte, Germany.
There is certainly a lighthearted, irreverent nature to much of Christian Jankowski's work, however, that is unmistakable, not least in his latest curatorial project for the 2016 edition of Manifesta, where he invites artists to collaborate with local tradesmen to create pieces exploring the cultural history of professions in Zurich, the proposal humorously entitled What people do for money. Born in 1968, Jankowski has exhibited widely all over the world, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, and the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich. His work was featured in the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999 and 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 and is to be found at the most renowned art fairs, notably Art Basel, Frieze, and the Armory Show.