press release

The Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto ( will be presenting the "Irrespektiv" exhibition by Kendell Geers, born in South Africa and from his early days committed to profound and personal reflection on the theme of racial segregation.

Curated by Jérôme Sans, "Irrespektiv" is a European co-production that brings together museums and art institutions from Belgium, the United Kingdom, France and Italy. The title, a parody of the term "retrospective", immediately expresses the tone of the exhibition and suggests its political and provocative stance. Geers was in the front line of the struggle against the folly of apartheid, and even modified his date of birth to make it coincide with May 1968, in reference to the May in France that gives meaning to the artist's political commitment.

With his works, Kendell Geers explores the geographic, linguistic, political, sexual and psychological limits and borders of man.

The artist claims there is a need to take a stance with respect to the world in which we live. From this critical viewpoint emerges a committed art that totally involves the artist at a personal level and draws the public into the work itself, making it in every way an element of the artistic creation. The reactions and emotions themselves of the visitor, his sense of astonishment, attraction or rejection, are an integral part of Kendell Geers's works.

At the Mart, the visitor will be able experience all this for himself starting with the work introducing the exhibition, The "POSTPUNKPAGANPOP" installation (2008) consists of a labyrinth surrounded by a special barbed wire invented by the South African police. One is not limited to "admiring" the work; one has to interact with it: the visitor has to choose which way to go. The "labyrinth" has two different exits: one leads to the rest of the exhibition; the other leads out, towards the reassuring context of the Mart's permanent collection.

In this as in other installations, the hell of South African apartheid surfaces in obsessive manner, but Kendell Geers does not seek to recount or explain so much as to involve the visitor and make him experience his own existential condition. Geers's criticism of the apartheid system is implacable for the very reason that it is expressed by someone who experienced it personally: the artist pours into his work all the paranoia, ambiguity, violence and hypocrisy typical of the white suburban lower middle class in South Africa during those years. At the same time, these works offer not just a provocation but also an important element of irony and detachment, because the artist does not aim to impose his own personal opinions, but invites the observer to reflect on the choices he makes.

After having been presented in Belgium (Kendell Geers lives and works in Brussels) with two complementary projects at the SMAK in Ghent and the BPS 22 in Charleroi, in the United Kingdom at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art of Newcastle and at the Musée d'art contemporain in Lyons, the exhibition concludes in Italy at the Mart, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento.

The catalogue, published by Bom Publisher of Barcelona, includes texts by Christine Macel, Paolo Herkenhoff, Rudi Laermans and Liveven de Caute.

Kendell Geers
Kurator: Jerome Sans