We are very pleased that John Baldessari has accepted our invitation, resulting in the present exhibition at the Portikus. Baldessari has been developing his own style in video works, collages, and photography and text montages since the early 1960s. Like many artists of his generation, he focused on deconstructing a modernist idea regarding the autonomy of art.

Eden: Adam and Eve (with Ear and Nose) Plus Serpent, a new project developed for Portikus, draws on earlier works which already used the motifs of ear and nose as pictorial elements. The sidewalls at the Portikus display magnified sections of a female and a male head. Like reliefs, the two noses and ears emerge from and are recessed into the wall, respectively, treating them as sculptural and photographic elements at the same time. The front wall displays an oversized black-and-white photograph of a snake held up by a person.

The snake motifs has appeared in earlier works by Baldessari such as the nine-part Shape Derived from Subject (Snake): Used as a Framing Device to Produce New Photographs, 1981, where, as the title indicates, it served as a formal means in an experiment with framing. Only the serpentine line determined the selection of detail. One photograph from this series shows the same picture of a snake that now reappears at the Portikus as a complete motif.

In more than one way, the exhibition points toward the incompatibility of purity and temptation, as described also in the Christian myth of the Garden of Eden. Baldessari employs the universal symbolism inherent in his motifs as a means of visual invention.

Kindly supported by: KPMG Deutsche Treuhand-Gesellschaft