Don’t be fooled by the aesthetics
Written on 10. January 2021
In 2017 I created the work ‚Das Reich‘ for Gorki’s Herbstsalon. With the installation, composed of furniture, objects and video, I tried to find a visual language to speak about the self-proclaimed ‚Reichsbürger‘ (citizens of the German Reich), who deny the legitimacy of the Federal Republic of Germany and claim that the German Reich is still in power. In the work I created the dystopian image that the Reichsbürger had taken over the Kronprinzenpalais Unter den Linden, and installed their emergency Reich government with furniture there, arranged in a cultic formation resembling Stonehenge.
During these last days, while seeing the millions of photos from the Capitol coup, I had to think a lot about this work. Not only because the aesthetics of it matched the work in detail, but because of the problems in dealing with a political movement whose aesthetics might be thought of as ‚weird‘. What I have realized is that it is difficult to convince people of the danger of people and movements, when their looks and self-staging seem weird, funny and laughable. While what they are producing in society is dangerous and a threat beyond our imagination. In the case of the ‚Reichsbürger‘, it is a racist, white-supremacist and violent hate-movement of conspiracy theorists, that during the pandemic gained more and more supporters throughout Germany. Don’t be fooled by the aesthetics.