Marcel Odenbach


Marcel Odenbach (1953, Cologne) has created a substantial repertoire of tapes, performances, drawings and installations since the mid-1970s, and is considered one of Germany’s most important video artists. His work critically examines subject formation in the context of socio-cultural norms and historical specificities. He has engaged such topics as male identity and sexuality, as well as the trauma of German history. Odenbach studied architecture, art history and semiotics at the Technische Hochschule in Aachen, Germany, between 1974 and 1979.

Artist Profile

“Im Schiffbruch nicht Schwimmen können”
Foundering, And You Can’t Swim

1 Channel HD Video, 8’ 23”, colour video, 16:9, stereo audio

In the video, we see three men from Nigeria and Cameroon – so-called migrants – visiting the Louvre in Paris and studying a painting: The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault (1819). This painting is not just the most famous (besides the Mona Lisa) in the Louvre; it also sums up the entire calamity of French colonialism and was a public provocation – the failure of Europeans in face of themselves. Under the flag of the grand nation and the idea of revolution, liberty, and fraternity, people turn into cannibals. In front of this painting, the three men reflect on their own journeys to Europe, their motivations, and their lives, their homesickness, worries, fears of becoming foreign in their own country.

“Sitting at the beach and dreaming from faraway places. But what happens when these faraway places become your new home?”


The work is presented by guest curator Olaf Stüber and exhibited on, accessible 12-31 October 2017.

Image: Marcel Odenbach, “Im Schiffbruch nicht Schwimmen könnnen”, Foundering, And You Can’t Swim (2011), HD Video, 8’ 23”, 16:9, stereo audio. Courtesy of the artist.