Lena Henke (b. 1982 in Warburg) is one of the successful international artists of her generation. She tests the conditions and possibilities of sculpture with technically innovative methods of production. At the same time, she expands the range of meaning of traditional sculpture by incorporating questions of femaleness and the production of power relations in urban space.
The possibilities of plastic art and sculpture serve Henke as a basis for understanding the molding (and casting) of bodies as a changeable process of design. Thus, in groups of works like Hooves, Boobs, and Sand Bodies, the process by which the work becomes a work finds representation; motifs of memesis link up with motifs of phantasmagoria; and it becomes apparent that the artist does not take her bearings from ideal conceptions but designs her sculptural figures to match her subjective mental images. In doing so, she not only engages the myth of masculinity; she also works with the strands of historical tradition—the questions of pedestal and space—to interrogate the logic of sculptural representation and representability. She holds the reins with great self-assurance, controlling the representation of women’s bodies and the symbolic power of horses and intervening in the mechanisms of urban architecture. It is Henke’s far-reaching reflections on the capacity of the sculptural that enable her, conversely, to grasp urbanity as a historically evolved sculpture, whose social mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion can be altered and redefined by means of targeted interventions. Thus, Henke relocated the entrances to her solo exhibitions (at the Kunstverein Braunschweig and Dortmunder Kunstverein) and intervened, with her street signs, in the psychology of existing urban structures (most recently in Siegen). Operating this side of social and architectural power structures, Henke’s works open up a highly pleasurable imaginative space in which the sculptural itself expands to encompass feminist and biographical perspectives and thus acquires a new topicality.