The collection of the Musée d'art et d'histoire de la Ville de Genève revisited by the transversal scenographic interventions of the Viennese artist and performer Jakob Lena Knebl, who turns perspectives upside down and radically renews our perception of the works.
For the first time in its history, the Museum of Art and History has given carte blanche to an artist to reinterpret its collection. The Viennese visual artist and performer Jakob Lena Knebl, a specialist in design and fashion, was given free rein to elaborate a series of scenographic interventions including objects from all fields and periods. A Bathing Venus is thus found in a modern shower cubicle, 18th century satin shoes run on a conveyor belt usually offering sushi, chandeliers are piled up in their transport crates... Thanks to these original stagings, perspectives of the collection are renewed.
Entitled Walk on the Water, this exhibition owes its name to a double artistic reference from Lake Geneva, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes by Konrad Witz and Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple. While the painting dating from 1444 shows Jesus walking on the water in the Geneva harbour, the song evokes the fire at the Montreux casino in 1971. This clash between high and low culture, which Knebl is so fond of, can also be found in her interventions in the MAH's collection.
The catalogue Walk on the Water reflects the artist's humorous and deliberately provocative work: in an effort to reach all audiences, especially those who do not usually visit museums, the book mixes interviews, essays and short texts on a selection of artworks, references to Deep Purple, a short story by Jorge Luis Borges inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and reproduced in full, as well as an interview with a Geneva barefoot champion. In addition to images of works and documentary snapshots, the book also includes photographs of Knebl's interventions in the galleries. Walking on Water differs from classic exhibition catalogues also in terms of form, thanks to the original graphic design by the Zurich studio Hubertus Design. With no cover, toying with appearances, this book is the first in a series that will accompany each of the MAH's "carte blanche" exhibitions.
Published on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition at the Musée d'art et d'histoire de la Ville de Genève in 2021.
Born in 1970 in Baden, Jakob Lena Knebl lives and works in Vienna. At age 30, she resolved to resume her studies. She followed Ralph Simmons's fashion design classes at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and studied textual sculpture with Heimo Zobernig at the Academic of Fine Arts Vienna. She modelled her pseudonym by combining her maternal grandparents' first names and last name.
Since 2009, her work has been presented in a number of monographic and group exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world, mainly in Austria (Lentos Museum, Linz; Galerie Georg Kargl, Vienna; Mumok, Vienna), France (Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris; Biennale de Lyon), the UK (Belmazc Gallery), Switzerland (Kunsthaus Zurich), and Germany (Kunstverein Hamburg), as well as in the US, Poland and Turkey.
A guest lecturer at the University of Art Linz, she has received many accolades in her own country and also teaches at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, which she joined as a senior artist.