In New York City’s Chinatown, subject Suat Ling Chua’s morning exercise is to practice the hula hoop. When Christian Jankowski first saw this woman he immediately got the idea to shoot Rooftop Routine. In the short video, Chua leads the group and dictates the movements that each participant has to repeat. Only one person of the group can directly see Chua and thus each person mimics another from roof to roof, altering the choreography after each passage like in a play of “Chinese whispers.” With this performance, Jankowski explores the social organization of a specific context. It brings together people of several buildings in the same project beyond isolation and social barriers of the urban environment. “In a work, new things, unknown things can happen. The important thing is to initiate a project to bring together the right people. Then the mechanism takes unpredictable paths. Until…voila!..the work is done,” says Jankowski.
Christian Jankowski's practice ranges from photography, films, and performances, involving audiences or often people unfamiliar to contemporary art. He claims that his "main drive always comes from the pleasure of meeting people and working with them." Through the manipulation of humor, collaboration, popular culture and magic, Jankowski creates links between art and people with a certain simplicity and relevance. Meeting with participants and making negotiations are an integral part of his work, as well as the elements of chance and accident. Jankowski's work is about life as it is lived. His way of juxtaposing different worlds and subcultures as a way to explore social systems and their organization is both attractive and serious. In one of his early work My Life as a Dove (1996), the artist was transformed into a dove by a magician. This performance introduces one of the recurring themes of his work – transformation and how the artwork may change the way we perceive the world and its organization.
Christian Jankowski was born in 1968 in Göttingen, Germany. He lives and works in New York.