Kendell Geers was born in South Africa and now lives and works in Brussels where he designs his contemporary artworks. At the 1993 Venice Biennial he officially changed his date of birth to May 1968, a momentous year in world history for human liberation and equality.
Incorporating language, ready-mades, broken glass, film, performance, and other elements, Kendell Geers creates work that disrupts social norms and codes. Employing a wide range of references—from art history to pornography, iconography to kitsch—Geers questions the value of aesthetics and thumbs his nose at the concept of originality. Laden with complex political references to racial or religious stereotypes, his work is challenging, confrontational, and, at the same time, humorous.
His earliest and best-known work has its origins in the artist’s anti-Apartheid activities and subsequent exile from South Africa, incorporating the harsh visual and performative language of activism—in Title Withheld (Brick) (1994/96), Geers threw a brick through a gallery window; in Title Withheld (Deported) (1993/97), he constructed a charged electric fence to cordon off a gallery space from visitors. Geers made a splash in 1993 when he urinated in Marcel Duchamp’s iconic Fountain.
His work reveals razor-sharp humour that plays with the viewer’s repulsion and ridicules racial or religious stereotypes. Laden with complex and deep political implications, it is challenging and confrontational. At the same time, Geers’ minimalist aesthetics generate a subtle poetic undertone. His use of language, ready-mades, neon, glass, icons, film, chevron tape and other objects confront the viewer head on. They often startle the eye and require a degree of interrogation from the spectator.
Kendell Geers has exhibited extensively around the world.
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