From left to right, Brigitte Schenk, Joseph Beuys and Johannes Stüttgen. The photograph shows the outcome of Joseph Beuys’s 1982 performance of the melting of Tsar Ivan the Terrible’s crown into the shape of a hare on the occasion of the Documenta 7 in Kassel and the artist's 7000 Oaks project.
Following classical ballet training, Brigitte Schenk-Weitzdörfer (D) studied philosophy and politics at the University of Cologne under Ernst Vollrath, a former student of Hannah Arendt’s. In the early 1980s, she went to New York. Working as an artist she was ‘discovered’ by Keith Haring for his exhibition at the Mudd Club in New York where he was a curator, as yet unknown in the art world. That legendary club hosted live performances, New Wave and experimental music, and literary sessions with Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, or ‘catwalk shows’ by young fashion designers like Anna Sui or Jasper Conran. It was at that time that Brigitte Schenk exhibited under the nom-de-plume of Miko Taka, after the Japanese actress co-starring with Marlon Brando in the film Sayonara. Showing wearable works of art such as Fried-Egg dresses, Walking Telephones or Playing-Card Outfits, Schenk drew her inspiration from famous paintings; and she delighted in ‘walking’ the works ‘out’ herself in the streets of New York.
From 1982 to 1986, she was a member of the FIU/Free International University founded by Joseph Beuys; during that time she put the trees of his transnational 7000 Oaks project, first presented at the Kassel Documenta 7 in 1982, on the market. From 1984 to 1988, Ms Schenk worked at the German office of the legendary DIA Art Foundation for its founders, Heiner Friedrich and Franz Dahlem. She was personal assistant to the artist A. R. Penck from 1988 to 1992.
Since establishing her own gallery in Cologne in 1993, the regular gallery program has developed to feature artists like Curtis Anderson, Klaus Fritze, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Marilyn Manson, Arnulf Rainer and Maria Zerres; meanwhile her work in the MENA region (the Middle East and North Africa) from 1999 on as one of the real pioneers in the field has led to artists of that region showing with increasing regularity in Europe. Tarek Al-Ghoussein’s representing Kuwait and Abdullah Al Saadi the UAE at the respective Venice Biennale pavilions in 2013 were cases in point. Recently Magdi Mostafa and Halim Al Karim joined the gallery.
Additionally Brigitte Schenk has organized various exhibitions in the MENA region and participated several times with her artists at the Biennial in Sharjah, UAE. In 2014 she co-curated a voluminous exhibition of the collection of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi, ruler of Sharjah and additionally “Works from the Sharjah Art Foundation” together with Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi in Cologne.The exhibitions: "Considering Dynamics and the Forms of Chaos" with Angela Bullock and Maria Zerres 2016 and "Subversive Forms of Social Sculpture" with Heimo Zobernig and Abdulnasser Gharem 2018 at the Sharjah Art Museum followed as well as the installation of the permanent large scale project "Rainroom" by Random International 2017.