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b. 1973, Munich
Janaina Tschäpe was born in Munich in 1973. Of German and Brazilian descent, the artist studied at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg from 1992 to 1998 and received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1998. For her early photographic series One Hundred Little Deaths (1997–2001), Tschäpe is shown collapsed facedown on desolate plazas, gritty highways, and sleek interiors in different parts of the world as she imagines one hundred possible scenarios for her own demise. For the videos and photographs that comprise works like Sala de Espera (Waiting Room) (2001) and After the Rain (2003), Tschäpe, reflecting on the desire for constant metamorphosis, transformed the bodies of both her models and herself into mystical creatures with whimsical, bulbous costumes made from latex balloons, mesh, fabric, and tubes. Since 2003, Tschäpe has created vibrant watercolors that, while nonrepresentational, might infer an underwater world. The dreamlike video Lacrimacorpus (2004) reveals a woman spinning first slowly and then with increasing frenzy until she collapses within an empty hall in the castle of Ettersburg near Weimar. The site is significant for its complex layered history as Goethe’s summer home and for its proximity to Nazi concentration camps. In Melantropics (2006), Tschäpe aggregates lush botanical gardens with her own invented surrealistic flora, fauna, and mystical beings, fabricating a timeless liminal space between reality and dreams.
Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized by Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (2001), Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (2004), Contemporary Museum of Art in St. Louis (2006), and Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin (2008), among others. Her work has also been included in major group exhibitions such as Landscape Confection at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio (2005), 30th Anniversary Exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (2007), São Paulo Bienal (2008), International Center of Photography Triennial (2009), and Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance (2010). Tschäpe lives and works in Brooklyn and Rio de Janeiro.