I am delighted to continue the exhibition activities of my gallery in the legendary space on Mutter-Ey-Straße with Luis Camnitzer's radical work cycle "Last Words".
Luis Camnitzer (*1937 in Lübeck, emigrated to Uruguay at the age of one) has been living in New York since 1964. He became better known to a broader audience in Germany through his participation in documenta 11 and a large retrospective at Kunsthalle Kiel (2003). In 2004 I exhibited his work cycle "Agent Orange" in my gallery.
Camnitzer's special achievement lies in politicizing conceptual art. His work, which draws on European traditions such as Dada and Situationism as well as from Uruguayan guerrilla strategies, also includes a strong commitment as an art critic, teacher and curator (e.g. as one of the organizers of the show "Global Conceptualism" at the Queens Museum of Art, New York, 1999).
Besides an emphasis on installations, Camnitzer developed his imagery using printmaking. He believes that printmaking is a territory that has been alienated from its inherent goal of democratically conveying information. Camnitzer, a pioneer of conceptual art, critiques current political realities from a perspective informed by his first-hand experience of dictatorships in Latin America. The six-part work cycle "Last Words" presented in the exhibition comes on the heels of New Jersey's historic decision to abolish the death penalty, and as the U.S. Supreme Court continues to consider the constitutionality of lethal injections.
The texts that form "Last Words" are taken from the final statements by death row prisoners just before being executed. Forgiveness, apologies, declarations of love to mothers, sisters, daughters, and others are interspersed with phrases alluding to death; the refrains like "I love you" is followed by "I am ready" or "It's my hour." Camnitzer collected these phrases from the website of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and selected those that include the word "love." Printed in reddish brown toned ink on six sheets of paper measuring approximately five and a half by four feet each, these works' human scale mirrors viewers' bodies. Their formal rigor alludes to minimalism, but the emotion of the texts explosively undermines this elegance.