Lungenbild (SEIN), 2008

Installation view: German Pavilion, Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy, 2011 | Photo: Roman Mensing |

Painting on textile X-ray print
200 x 297 cm

Christoph Schlingensief continues to be celebrated as one of Germany’s most subversive, scandalous, and thought provoking artists. With a background in film, television, art, theater, and opera, that artist called on the public and those in power to examine themselves and the societies they create and control. Influenced by German history and Schlingensief produced a body of work that evades classification and genre, and, in turn, profoundly marked the state of contemporary German art today. 

In early 2008, Schlingensief learned he had lung cancer. His textile X-ray painting Lungenbild (SEIN) tells the tragic tale of the artist’s reckoning with his unhealthy body. The painting almost undertakes the same approach as the “exquisite corpse” technique of artistic collaboration – with Schlingensief’s illness, psyche, and reason forming the collective. An enlarged X-ray of his cancerous lungs has been magnified and printed on textile, over this Schlingensief has, seemingly impulsively, painted his introspections across the image in black and red. Phrases like, “God will fix you, but who is god?,” “Big Bang,” “Universe,” “Black Hole,” and “We’re hopeful news,” are deeply moving in their honesty of thought and emotion. Here, the artist explores his own uncertain future by reaching back to the theory of cosmic creation. – Alicia Reuter

*1960 in Oberhausen, Germany | † 2010 in Berlin, Germany