b. 1964, Lilienthal, West Germany
Josephine Meckseper was born in 1964 in Lilienthal, West Germany. After graduate studies at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin (1986–90), she received an MFA from California Institute of the Arts, Valencia (1990–92). In her practice, which encompasses film, photography, and installation, Meckseper challenges the conventional meanings of familiar cultural imagery and the systems of circulation and display through which they acquire signification. By conflating art objects with commodities, she draws a direct correlation to the way our consumer culture impacts cultural production.
Meckseper approaches her art as a conceptual exercise intended to challenge accepted truths. In a characteristic group of works she began making around 2000, Meckseper melds the aesthetic language of modernism with the formal language of commercial display, using vitrines, display stands, and shelves and combining them with images and artifacts of historical and political events.
By re-presenting common signifiers including advertisements, political symbols, everyday consumer goods, and other ephemera of Western culture within the context of an exhibition, she lends these otherwise commonplace products and images a critical framework. A similar blend of high and low culture can be found in FAT magazine, a conceptual publication that Meckseper issued from 1994 to 2000. Counter to its tabloid-like appearance, the magazine contained scholarly essays and art projects, and in the avant-garde tradition of breaking down barriers between art and life, it was distributed through mainstream newsstands and supermarkets.
Meckseper’s work was the subject of a retrospective at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Germany (2007), and has been the focus of solo exhibitions at such venues as the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich (2009); Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston (2009); Ausstellungshalle zeitgenössische Kunst Münster, Germany (2009); and the Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York (2013). Her work has been featured in many group exhibitions worldwide, including the Lyon Biennial, France (2005); Media Burn, Tate Modern, London (2006); Whitney Biennial (2006, 2010); Moscow Biennial (2007); Prospect New Orleans (2008); Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates (2011); Taipei Biennial (2014); and most recently America Is Hard To See, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (both 2015). In 2012, she was commissioned by the Art Production Fund to present Manhattan Oil Project, an outdoor kinetic installation with life-size oil pumps, in an empty lot near Times Square. Meckseper lives and works in New York.