14 Words

Museum für Moderne Kunst
MMK Tower
Frankfurt/Main, 2018

Neon lights and a cool, almost uniform mint color décor give the installation 14 Words a ghostly harshness. The white and black ceramics and metal objects take the place of flowers and bouquets, from the hustle and bustle only dirt residues remain on the shelves. In 14 Words, the former flower store from Neugersdorf, a town in Saxony, becomes the decor for the intertwining of design and ideology.

eine weiße, ringförmige Vase steht in der grünen Ladeneinrchtung

Henrike Naumann traces the question of how the design of spaces and objects has an unconscious effect. How places look in which certain sensations and thoughts are materialized. Or, the other way around, how social structures are reflected in a datable and localizable design of environments or objects, and how history is thus transported.

Fensterloser Raum mit verschiedenen türkisfarbenen Möbeln

At the same time, the transfer of a formerly operated store into another context makes it clear that a store is not just a place, but occupies and symbolizes a certain social place. Thus, the flower store may also remind us that all nine victims of the racist murders of the NSU complex were self-employed entrepreneurs who were shot in their stores.

The title of the paper cites a far-right ideological numerical code originating in the USA but also commonly used in Germany. Since the core idea is expressed in fourteen words (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”), this number is used as a formula in various neo-fascist contexts, including the ,National Socialist Underground’ (NSU)’s confession video. With her video work, Henrike Naumann examines how ideologems, i.e. imaginary values, are encoded in words or numbers and transported and disseminated in coded form as formal elements by means of analog and digital communication or design.

Naumann comes from Zwickau in the German Democratic Republic (she foregrounds the fact that she was born in a country that no longer exists), which was a bastion of the National Socialist Underground. Her art places the viewer in an uncomfortable situation. Instead of giving openly antifascist declarations sprinkled with art-gallery confetti, she offers an unpleasant insight into the mundane, unleavened, small-town roots of fascism.

Sebastian Cichocki: Henrike Naumann – Future Greats, in: ArtReview 01/2019



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