Elmgreen & Dragset’s Artist-Driven Istanbul Biennial Is a Model for Future Curators
Venue: Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2015)
With an eye trained to the sociopolitical issues of his time and a focus on the complexities of German history and culture, Olaf Metzel creates controversial and ambitious public artworks. He repurposes politically charged urban detritus into symbolic and often aggressive monuments that can be so divisive that they are quickly dismantled or vandalized. Since abandoning figurative work in the early 1980s, Metzel rose to fame following his sculpture 13.4.81 (1987), a tower of piled-up police barriers placed in Berlin; the name referenced the date on which violent protests erupted in Germany in the wake of false media reports that the incarcerated RAF member Sigurd Debus had died. Shortly after its construction, it was ordered dismantled by the Berlin Senate. Other works, such as the life-size nude figure Turkish Delight (2006), have been vandalized. Despite this, Metzel has continued to be inspired by taboo political subjects and has shown in museum collections across Germany.
German, b. 1952, Berlin, Germany, based in Munich, Germany