Klaus vom Bruch

Klaus vom Bruch works in video and multi-media installation. His video works of the 1980s engage in a provocative analysis of identity in relation to Western cultural mythology and history. This often ironic discourse is presented as a direct confrontation between the self and the theater of collective memory, which vom Bruch posits as an archive of media images — television advertising, Hollywood cinema, World War II archival films. Subjectivity is located in a violent confluence of the spectacles of war, technology, and capital. Aggressively deconstructing representations of the military and mass media apparatuses, vom Bruch's videotapes take the form of propulsive, nonverbal collages. Relentless in their obsession and repetition, his signature visual systems exploit both the one-on-one directness of video and its relation to the mass media apparatus. In an exacting fusion of structure and content, his formal strategy is to use rapid-fire video switching to alternate repetitively between two visual sources — one appropriated, one a "live" self-image — so that they are seen simultaneously as composite texts. Rhythmically inserting flash-frames of his face into tightly edited, stutter- step fragments of archival films, cinema or advertising, he constructs associative, metaphorical meaning. Reductive, hypnotic soundtracks heighten the tension as self-portraits interrupt repeated images of war and mass media technologies.

Vom Bruch's early works are compelling inquiries into postwar German identity. The mythic past collides with the media present as the artist is seen in collusion with World War II bomber pilots, wartime destruction, and TV advertising. Collapsing the personal and the historical, conflating subjectivity and history, desire and the cinematic apparatus, or the body and communications technologies, vom Bruch's potent analytical systems expand on the theories of Paul Virilio.

Producing tapes, installations and performances since the mid-1970s, vom Bruch has focused in recent years on mixed media installations that analyze the public and private spheres of communications technologies, including radar and satellites.

Klaus vom Bruch was born in 1952. He studied with John Baldessari at the California Institute of the Arts from 1975-76, after which he studied philosophy at the University of Cologne. His works have received numerous awards and are in the permanent collections of institutions including Kunsthaus, Zurich; De Appel, Amsterdam; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Musee d'Art Contemporain, Montreal. Vom Bruch's videotapes and installations have been widely exhibited internationally, in group shows at institutions including Kolnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; Kunsthaus, Zurich; The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Stadtisches Kunstmuseum, Bonn; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Long Beach Museum of Art, California; Documenta 8, Kassel, West Germany; DuMont Kunsthalle, Cologne; Tate Gallery, London; and Musee d'Art Contemporain, Montreal. He has also had solo exhibitions at institutions including the Stadtisches Museum Abteiberg, Monchengladbach, Germany; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and Malmo Konsthall, Sweden. Vom Bruch lives in Cologne, Germany.