Canadian artist Jana Sterbak is increasingly establishing herself as one of the most significant
innovators in contemporary art. Despite the considerable attention she has aroused around the
world, the current retrospective exhibition in Malmö Konsthall is her first in Sweden. It is
therefore a unique opportunity to get to know the work of this exciting and distinctive artist. The
exhibition highlights different aspects of her art and displays a selection of all her important
works from an artistic career of more than twenty years. The works have been borrowed from
museums and private collections in Canada, the United States and Europe. In conjunction with
the exhibition a catalogue will be published illustrating all the works in the exhibition.
Jana Sterbak had her international breakthrough in 1987 with her work Vanitas - a dress made
from raw beef. It was a work of art that changed over time and by the time the exhibition closed
the dress had taken on the appearance of dried-out leather. That same year she created Generic
Man - a photograph of a man‚s shaved head seen from the back, in which everything appears
normal until the viewer notices the bar code apparently carved or tattooed in his neck. She has
subsequently continued to create surprising works which leave no one unmoved.
The exhibition at Malmö Konsthall includes a number of Jana Sterbak's newer works such as Hot
Crown from 1998 and Dissolution (Auditorium) from 2001. Hot Crown consists of an over two-meter-high, stylised ‚crown‚ from which there now and again emerge puffs of heat. The
opposite, cold, is met in Dissolution. She again surprises us: what we think are normal chairs turn
out to have their backs and seats made of ice. The nature and balance of the chairs change the
longer the day goes on and the ice melts.
Jana Sterbak creates exciting art works that both amuse and challenge us. She wants us to stop
and think. Almost unnoticed, she leads our thoughts into themes such as the relationship between private and public, seduction and force, or man and machine. In her works, she seeks out the
often absurdly deadlocked situation that is the condition in which we humans find ourselves
today as a result of our own physical and psychological nature. Jana Sterbak works in many
different materials, but they always play a decisive role by following and strengthening the
concept and nature of her works.
Jana Sterbak was born in 1955 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, but since 1968 she has lived in
Canada, New York and Paris. She currently divides her time between Montreal and Barcelona.
Jana Sterbak has had a number of major solo exhibitions which have received considerable
attention, including ones at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, the Museum of
Contemporary Art, Chicago and the Serpentine Gallery, London. Her only solo exhibition in the
Nordic region up to now was at Louisiana, Denmark, in 1993.
Perspiration: Olfactory Portrait, 1995
Glass bottle, reconstituted human
Height: 25.4 cm Diameter: 15.2 cm
Collection of the artist