Jan Brokof

Jan Brokof (1977) was born in former Eastern Germany. In his early work the social environment of his youth with its Plattenbau apartment buildings and the chimneys of the local oil refinery play a prominent role. He once made a completely three-dimensional reconstruction in woodcut of his boy’s room, including the sansevierias in the window sill and posters of Billy Idol, Baywatch and Madonna on the walls. Besides the woodcuts he made colorful drawings with a billboard like stylization in which human interaction and social structures are visualized. This stylization is also strongly present in the colorful collages that he starts making after that. In Berlin he met a the theatre group andcompany&Co. with which he went on tour in Brazil. His first visit to Sao Paolo gave him a culture shock similar to the one he experienced on his first visit to West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Shortly thereafter he discovered the account by the 16th-century German adventurer Hans Staden about his stay with a tribe of cannibals in Brazil. The explorer describes this new world and in doing so also clearly defines himself as a European. Brokof applies this perspective to the former German Democratic Republic citizen who has to come to terms with the capitalist West. This is the point of departure for collages, works on paper and installations in which exoticism and cannibalism are presented in a curious mix of German and Brazilian motives. Together with Flemish theater director and writer Joachim Robbrecht Jan Brokof started Hans Staden TV, an ongoing video project. In present day Sao Paolo they act out the story of the 16th Century adventurer Hans Staden and create an archetypical tourist/outsider persona as well, which creates surreal scenes caused by the clash of cultures and of past and present.

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