Isa Genzken

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3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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There's a magpie-like quality to Isa Genzken's recent output – a mania for shiny, twinkly things, for synthetic materials in fluorescent colours, for designer goods and dazzling images. The result is a delirious cacophony: collages of patterned wallpaper and wrapping paper, of personal photos and magazine cut-outs, of mirrors and reflective Mylar – often slashed with whimsical paint dribbles or scratches, in a deliberate inversion of her minimalist background.

As for her sculptural assemblages, they're even more maximalist: teetering tangles of Perspex furniture and plastic toys, not to mention the various concrete casts of radios. Each of these is entitled 'World Receiver', perhaps as a summary of her practice as a whole, in which she channels the global ephemera of the mass-media age.

Out of all the static and spectacle, one theme dominates – suggested by the numerous mannequins in the South Gallery, decorated in ersatz clothing and fright masks – and that is the sense of masquerade, of culture and society as simply a pose, a form of artifice and pretence. It's a fairly familiar message, admittedly, but one that the Berlin-based artist delivers with overwhelming gusto.

She's less convincing, though, when she turns to more specific critiques. In the North Gallery are rows of identical replica busts of Queen Nefertiti, individuated only by different sunglasses, while leaning again their plinths are reproductions of another icon of female beauty, the Mona Lisa, overlaid with a blurry photo of the artist herself. As a comment on gender construction, it seems to lack the cynical bite, that deft manipulation of visual stereotype, that marks her other work; instead, it feels like an artistic stereotype itself, rather obvious and hackneyed.

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