The Julia Stoschek Foundation presents Ulysses Jenkins' first major retrospective in Europe

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The Julia Stoschek Foundation presents Ulysses Jenkins' first major retrospective in Europe
Ulysses Jenkins, Peace and Anwar Sadat, 1985, video, 21’32“, color, sound. Installation view JSF Berlin. Photo: Alwin Lay.



BERLIN.- The Julia Stoschek Foundation presents the European premiere of Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation, the first major retrospective of the work of groundbreaking video and performance artist Ulysses Jenkins.

A pivotal influence on contemporary art for over fifty years, Jenkins—who was born and lives in Los Angeles—has produced video and media work that conjures vital expressions of how image, sound, and cultural iconography inform representation.

Using archival footage, photographs, image processing, and soundtracks, Jenkins interrogates questions of race and gender as they relate to ritual, history, and the power of the state. The exhibition is co-curated by Erin Christovale, associate curator at the Hammer Museum, L.A., and Meg Onli, former Andrea B. Laporte Associate Curator at ICA Philadelphia, where the exhibition was previously on view. The Julia Stoschek Foundation presentation is coordinated by Lisa Long with curatorial assistance from Savannah Jade Thümler.

Organized closely with the artist—including the digitization of a sprawling archive and conversations with Ulysses Jenkins and his collaborators—the exhibition encompasses a broad range of over fifteen videos and almost sixty works in total that showcase his collaborations, mural paintings, photography, and performances, revealing the scope of Jenkins’s practice.

Erin Christovale: “Ulysses Jenkins’s singular and innovative explorations of Blackness and the American experience through video have had a far-reaching influence on experimental media and generations of artists. But since his work defies categorization, there has been an absence of scholarship around it. Meg and I are thrilled to be a part of placing his oeuvre in an art historical context, and to share it with the world.”

Meg Onli: “Ulysses Jenkins is the forefather of the practices of so many young video artists working today. It feels important to look back and chart that history—especially given the way Black experimental artists have come to the forefront in both art and independent film spaces in recent years, putting forward radically different modalities of moving-image-making. Jenkins’s work always feels vibrant and bursting at the seams. I love the textures that he’s making visually. I hope audiences will see his incredible practice and feel, as we do, there’s just something undeniable about Ulysses.”

Julia Stoschek: “When I saw Ulysses Jenkins’s show at the Hammer Museum in February 2022 together with Lisa Long, we both immediately knew that this work and exhibition needed to be presented to an audience in Europe. I’m extremely honored to have such a historically important exhibition by two of today’s most compelling curators at the collection."

Lisa Long: “Jenkins’s practice is accessible from so many vantage points. Artistic collaboration, alternative distribution networks, examinations of identity, media and performance, the use of new technologies, and a curiosity for formalist experimentation all converge in his practice.”

Beginning as a painter and muralist, Jenkins was introduced to video just as the first consumer cameras were becoming available. He quickly seized upon television technology as a means to broadcast alternative and critical depictions of multiculturalism, citing the catalyst of Melvin Van Peebles’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971) and its call to Black filmmakers to control their subjecthood by controlling in turn the media that depicts them.

From his work with Video Venice News, a Los Angeles media collective he founded in the early 1970s, to his involvement with the artist group Studio Z (alongside David Hammons, Senga Nengudi, and Maren Hassinger), to his individual video and performance works with Othervisions Studio, Jenkins explicitly comments on how white supremacy is embedded in popular culture and its effects on subjectivity.

Jenkins studied under Charles White, Gene Youngblood, Chris Burden, and Betye Saar, and has collaborated with many artists, including Kerry James Marshall, who performed in Two-Zone Transfer (1979); David Hammons, who was the subject of King David (1978); and Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger, both of whom appeared in Dream City (1983), among other works.




Among the many video works included in the exhibition is Mass of Images (1978), an innovative video art piece that critiques the media’s role in perpetuating racist and harmful images of the African diaspora in the United States. Like other works in the exhibition, it is grounded in issues that remain at the heart of contemporary conversations about inequality and environmental devastation amplified by unchecked capitalism, governmental oppression, and the impact of systemic racism on Black cultural production.

Though many emerging Black video artists who came of age in the 1990s and early 2000s cite Jenkins as a major influence, his groundbreaking and prescient work is only now being revisited by scholars, curators, and a wider group of artists. Particularly relevant for today is the political and social commentary embedded in Jenkins’s work, such as his questioning of Black stereotypes in the American entertainment industry in Mass of Images (1978) and Two-Zone Transfer (1979), or calls to protect the rights of Indigenous groups and promote environmental conservation in Bay Window (1991).

Three videos by Ulysses Jenkins have been acquired by Julia Stoschek for the collection: Mass of Images (1978), Two-Zone Transfer (1979), and Dream City (1983).

“After decades of creating his own networks of distribution, I wanted to ensure his work becomes a permanent part of this collection,” said Julia Stoschek. “Welcome, Ulysses!”

The exhibition at the Julia Stoschek Foundation will be accompanied by a publication designed by Bureau Borsche, which is offered free of charge for all guests. The publication includes reprinted catalogue essays by curators Erin Christovale and Meg Onli, as well as a reprinted essay by Aria Dean from X-TRA. These texts have been translated into German for the first time.

The original exhibition catalogue will also be for sale at the JULIA STOSCHEK COLLECTION in Berlin and on the website. This catalogue is the first publication devoted to Jenkins’s work, jointly produced by ICA Philadelphia and the Hammer Museum, and designed by Los Angeles-based design studio ELLA. It features essays by exhibition curators Meg Onli and Erin Christovale and curatorial assistant lkechukwu Onyewuenyi, along with a roundtable conversation between scholars Michael Gillespie and Alessandra Raengo and curators Greg de Cuir Jr. and Chrissie Iles. Also included are reprinted articles by artists Aria Dean (“Written and Bitten: Ulysses Jenkins and the Non-Ontology of Blackness”) and Kerry James Marshall (“Higher Learning”), as well as contributions from artists Maren Hassinger, Senga Nengudi, Cauleen Smith, May Sun, David Hammons, and Charles White, and art his-torian and curator Kellie Jones.

A reprint of Jenkins’s 1990 memoir Doggerel Life: Stories of a Los Angeles Griot also accompanies the exhibition and will be available for purchase at the JSC Berlin shop.

Three videos by Ulysses Jenkins have been acquired by Julia Stoschek for the collection: Mass of Images (1978), Two-Zone Transfer (1979), and Dream City (1983).

“After decades of creating his own networks of distribution, I wanted to ensure his work becomes a permanent part of this collection,” said Julia Stoschek. “Welcome, Ulysses!”

The exhibition at the Julia Stoschek Foundation will be accompanied by a publication designed by Bureau Borsche, which is offered free of charge for all guests. The publication includes reprinted catalogue essays by curators Erin Christovale and Meg Onli, as well as a reprinted essay by Aria Dean from X-TRA. These texts have been translated into German for the first time.

The original exhibition catalogue will also be for sale at the JULIA STOSCHEK COLLECTION in Berlin and on the website. This catalogue is the first publication devoted to Jenkins’s work, jointly produced by ICA Philadelphia and the Hammer Museum, and designed by Los Angeles-based design studio ELLA. It features essays by exhibition curators Meg Onli and Erin Christovale and curatorial assistant lkechukwu Onyewuenyi, along with a roundtable conversation between scholars Michael Gillespie and Alessandra Raengo and curators Greg de Cuir Jr. and Chrissie Iles. Also included are reprinted articles by artists Aria Dean (“Written and Bitten: Ulysses Jenkins and the Non-Ontology of Blackness”) and Kerry James Marshall (“Higher Learning”), as well as contributions from artists Maren Hassinger, Senga Nengudi, Cauleen Smith, May Sun, David Hammons, and Charles White, and art his-torian and curator Kellie Jones.

A reprint of Jenkins’s 1990 memoir Doggerel Life: Stories of a Los Angeles Griot also accompanies the exhibition and will be available for purchase at the JSC Berlin shop.










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