Marcel Odenbach

Video as installation is a customary part of contemporary art today, but the medium was largely overlooked by artists when Marcel Odenbach first began to use video in the mid 1970s. The 35 years that have elapsed has seen phenomenal changes. As artists learn and technology progresses Odenbach, one of Europe’s most successful pioneers of video art, remains a leader in the field. He is still making groundbreaking and striking video. The exhibition takes its title from the controversial book The Idea of Africa (1996) by V.Y. Mudimbe in which the author claims that Africa has been continually misrepresented in the West by false constructs and fantasies made up deliberately by scholars and writers since Greek times. During 10 years of visiting Africa, Odenbach has recorded personal observations in South Africa, Cameroon, Rwanda and Ghana. Like the cross cultural reflections on his native Germany and post-Nazi culture, which he has explored in his work since the early 1980s, the exhibition of African works derive from a personal perspective and film shot himself mixed with public and political images, cinematic references and found footage. The exhibition consists of his films presented in various formats, as large projections, diptychs and on series of monitors. Odenbach’s acclaimed issue-based work, addressing social and political issues, has earned him the position as one of Germany’s most important artists working in video and installation today. This is the first time that the body of work Odenbach has created from his experiences in Africa has been brought together in one exhibition. Cologne based, Odenbach showed work at the last Istanbul and Sao Paulo Biennales. He is professor of media art at the Koeln Medienkunst Academy. In 2001 he curated the exhibition Blick-Wechsel: African Video Art for the ifa-galleries in Bonn, Stuttgart and Berlin, effectively introducing many African media artists to European and American artists, curators and the public for the first time. The show was a major exhibition of video, installation and performance, and included artists from several African countries, including Mawuli Afatsiawo. Picture Credit: Marcel Odenbach The Idea of Africa, 1998