Vanessa German: Sculpture and Assemblage

(from her site) In Vanessa German’s multi-disciplinary work we find a sifting of evidence, an evaluation of material things, and a critique of the society she finds spread out before her: she is a witness to what she finds, and declares it loudly and passionately, and, for a shy woman, also fearlessly. She intuitively transforms her findings, her evidences, into her work. It does not come of nothing; it is not that class of genius. The word invention in its Latin root, means ‘to find or come upon’ (as in the Invention of the Cross), and significantly for German, it is the prime canon of rhetoric. Look at Tar Baby Jane & Doowop: Everything Useful for Your Household, 2010 in the David Driskell Collection. It brings the African American experience forward as treasure trove (thesaurio inventio), powerfully, drippingly.

Sculpture and Assemblage

The first body of her work to be considered is material and physical, in the main sculptures and assemblages, of the kind that seldom existed in the Western tradition before modernism, but which are commonplace in other and older cultures. These older cultures are connected viscerally with religions and near-magical practices where good and evil tread the same path. A ‘doll’ can bring death or life, its (doll)maker a shaman or priest/priestess. It is worth considering how these presences could be seen as formative elements in German’s work.

Score by Mychael Pollard



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