Jack Smith: Cologne, 1974


1 Nov – 15 Dec 2013

Jack Smith: Cologne, 1974 brings together photographs by Gwenn Thomas and a film by Birgit Hein, both documenting a performance by Jack Smith (1932 - 1989) at Cologne Zoo as part of Projekt 74 organized by Kunsthalle Köln.

Though best known for his pioneering film and photographic output, in the two decades leading up to his death from AIDS related illness in 1989, Jack Smith largely left these forms behind in favour of delirious experiments in theatre and performance. In these final years he sought to draw together art and life, folding his quixotic world view (in particular his radical political and economic theories) into increasingly bizarre and playful soliloquies performances. Fear Ritual of Shark Museum - the event this exhibition explores - is exemplary in this sense. 

Documenting Smith's performance for Willoughby Sharp and Liza Bear’s New York based avant-garde magazine Avalanche was photographer Gwenn Thomas. Also present was filmmaker Birgit Hein, there to produce a feature on Smith for the TV program Kino 74. 

Jack Smith: Cologne, 1974 features the suite of black and white photographs taken by Thomas during the performance alongside the 10-minute film directed by Hein. Alongside these two central works will be a small collection of publications relating to Smith’s work, xeroxed articles and a small print archive. 

Birgit Hein is a German film director, producer and screenwriter who has made experimental films since the 1960s. Hein has won many prestigious Awards and her films have been screened at festivals worldwide. She lives and works in Berlin.

Gwenn Thomas’ artworks have been exhibited in numerous exhibitions in the US and abroad. Her work is included in many public and private collections, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia as well as numerous private collections. She lives and works in New York.

This exhibition has been co-produced with Exile, Berlin.