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Installation View © Courtesy of Galerie Crone

Rudi-Dutschke-Str. 26
10969 Berlin
October 28th, 2011 - December 22nd, 2011

+49-(0)30-259 2449-0
Tue-Sat 11-6
photography, video-art


Since the 1970s Marcel Odenbach has been dealing with the social role of media discourses.
His comprehensive oeuvre includes photography, video and performance art and is
characterized by his critical examination of German politics and history. The stylistic means
of the collage ranks high in his work: On the one hand as formal and conceptual reference to
the artistic traditions of the 1920s and 1930s in Germany; on the other hand as an instrument
to reflect upon his own experiences concerning the fragmented culture of remembrance in
post-war Germany. With “Marcel Odenbach. Sportbefreit” Galerie Crone presents a group of
collages that discuss the entwined historical and libidinous relations between sports, politics
and globalisation.
“Auf drei Streifen reduziert” (“Reduced to three stripes”) is the show’s central piece. Referring
to the three stripes of the German sports wear brand Adidas, popular among the black
subculture of the 1980s throughout the 2000s, Odenbach varies and deconstructs the
‘imago’ of Afro-American culture. Without a moralizing undertone, the artist points at
European and German hierarchies of perspective that are based on stereotypes towards the
From a distant point of view, “Auf drei Streifen reduziert” seems to be an exercise in serial
repetition: Three vertical stripes in flamboyant green, pink or pale blue collide with green,
blue or brown backgrounds. On closer inspection, however, one can identify the chromatic
screens consisting of collages whose imagery derives from the broad repertoire of Afro-
American culture. Portraits of political icons from the 1960s Civil Rights Movement as Martin
Luther King, athletes as Muhammed Ali and of the rapper 2Pac blur in a cliché of black pop
culture. The art critic Jörg Heiser has noted that Adidas became a fetish in the old school Hip
Hop scene through Run DMC’s song “My Adidas” in 1986 at the latest. In Odenbach’s work
the three stripes symbolize a global paradigm shift from protest to sport, from political to
commercial culture.
Odenbach charges the seemingly neutral formalism of the three stripes with politically
explosive force. Besides fragments from Kobena Mercer’s essay “Skin Head Sex Thing:
Racial Difference and Homoerotic Imaginary” (1991), the three stripes consist of snippets
from letters to the artist and private notes. Marcel Odenbach’s oeuvre stands out through
exactly this subtle intervention between aesthetic form and political content. History and
politics don’t consist of abstract categories but exist as dynamic parameters, fed upon history
and narrative.
The exhibition is completed by the large scale collage “Solange der Ball rollt” (“As long as the
ball keeps rolling”, 236cm x 150cm), that shows a French international in a football tackling,
alongside a four piece series (36cm x 48cm) of gouaches and collages depicting variations of
the same motif. Here, as in “Auf drei Streifen reduziert”, Odenbach addresses the
interrelations between sport, culture and ethnic identity or rather the latter’s dissolution. The
player’s body in “Solange der Ball rollt” consists of fragments that confront and discuss
different levels of Afro-American and African iconography. The ‘Equipe Tricolore’ is known to
be one of the first multi-ethnical football teams and was one of the most popular and
successful ones during the 1990s and 2000s. Thus, due to the relatively high percentage of
black players the neologism “black, blanc, beur” was coined in reference to the “bleu, blanc,
rouge” of the national flag of France.
Marcel Odenbach (born 1953) studied architecture, art history and semiotics at the
Technische Hochschule, Aachen (1973–79). In 1992, he started teaching at the Staatliche
Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe and the Kunsthochschule für Medien in Cologne.
Since 2011 he has been a professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Odenbach lives and
works in Cologne. His work is internationally exhibited and part of renowned collections such
as MoMA in New York, Centre Pompidou in Paris and Museum Ludwig in Cologne. Latest
shows include “Probeliegen” at Freud Museum in London (2011) and “Im Kreise drehen”
(2009) at Galerie Crone.