10. August – 13. October 2019
"If you're going to blaspheme, you'd better pull up a chair and join me."
(Title of a popular African wax print fabric)
The Frankfurt based artist Martin Wenzel shows coffins and urns inspired by a working stay in Ghana 2017 in the studio of the coffin carpenter and artist Kudjoe Affutu.
His works represent an ironic, witty, but also provocative commentary on our funeral system. The intercultural exchange was supported by a scholarship from the Hessian Cultural Foundation.
Martin Wenzel (*1979), a graduate of the Offenbach Academy of Design and the Frankfurt Städelschule, is interested in things that stand around on the street, things that can be found in abundance in his studio (former air-raid shelter), even the arrangement of a pile of bulky waste can arouse his interest. Objects that in everyday life often lie below the threshold of perception provide Wenzel with both the most diverse materials and the aesthetic potential for his sculptural works and installations.
This explicitly technical-physical examination of form and design structures also prompted the artist, who lives in Frankfurt, to undertake his travel project: With a scholarship from the Hessian Cultural Foundation, Martin Wenzel worked for two months in the winter of 2017 in the studio of the Ghanaian coffin maker Kudjoe Affutu (*1985) and became acquainted with the art of this traditional craft, which is widespread in the Greater Accra region. Figurative coffins handcrafted from wood have been used for burial by the Ga since the beginning of the 20th century; since the 1960s, depending on the respective status and field of activity, also deceased persons of the Christian communities are buried in animal or vegetable forms, in a Mercedes Benz or a mobile phone.
Kudjoe Affutu is known far beyond Ghana, his coffin works are now used in neighbouring countries and shown internationally in exhibitions and collections – in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, in Basel and also in the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art. Martin Wenzel was assisted in the planning and execution of this trip by the Swiss ethnologist and art historian Regula Tschumi, who has conducted fundamental research into the history and practice of coffin building in Ghana.
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V.
Zentralinstitut für Sepulkralkultur
Museum für Sepulkralkultur
D-34117 Kassel | Germany
Tel. +49 (0)561 918 93-0