Die Leihgabe / The Loan


In his video works and spatial installations Christian Jankowski’s practice targets strategies of participation by others in his work. This approach, to delegate activities to third parties and think processes through to their, mostly absurd, end, is what Jankowski applies to Turm der blauen Pferde. As a famous but absent painting it constitutes – like many other lost masterpieces – a blank and a trauma in the collective memory of 20th century art history. Leaving aside the crimes that caused the loss of the artwork, Jankowski had Haus am Waldsee address an official loan request to the general directorate of Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in 2016. The ensuing correspondence addressed conservational requirements as well as issues of insurance, transport and documentation. Everything took its usual, official course. After the picture had been examined by restorers and packed and transported by expert art handlers it was mounted with the appropriate devices to the exhibition wall of the site where it allegedly resurfaced briefly after the Second World War. Physically, only a blank space is visible. The video shows the course the painting has taken in the act of its loan. The transport turns into a ritual referencing a state funeral and improved coping with bereavement. There are also associations of exercises in pain therapy and memories of religious ceremonies trying to convey the hope of resurrection and eternal life. Jankowski addresses both the painful gap inflicted on the collection of the Berlin National Gallery by the campaign “degenerate art” and the myth that tends to spring up around lost artworks. Today this myth thrives partly because the number of contemporaries who have seen the original is decreasing all the time.