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Sense títol, 2005

Untitled, 2005

Creischer reflects, via installation work, drawings and collages, articles and texts, the relations between official policy (expressed in government action), business (the big financial and banking corporations) and culture, which give rise to new forms and new types of alienation and manipulative perversion. Her ethical position resolves itself against the crisis of contemporary liberal governments and the supposed misfortune of financial, political and social crises.
In this work she presents a series of collages that are intimately related to the recent history of Germany. At the present time the ghosts of Hitler and the two Germanys still hover around; the capital made during those years goes on economically sustaining certain powers that exercise control even in fields like the artistic one.

Glossary Images of Germany
In 1997 a show called Images of Germany was held in Berlin. It was conceived as the first detailed presentation of the evolution of art in the two Germanys, as a form of unification initially envisaged and now manifest.
Before that show similar attempts had existed that failed due to the intense ideological overload that the works from East and West conveyed. For example, the shows devoted to the art of East Germany from Weimar or from Berlin. But no one ever tried to articulate an exhibition with West-German ideology, with that re-education for freedom and its ways of eliminating taboos that revitalised the economic situation, like, for instance, the total emancipatory bankruptcy of Pop Art.

Being German
In 1993 the show Being German? was held in the Kunsthalle in Dusseldorf. The show was financed by fonds provided by the government for a major campaign against hatred and xenophobia. This was a reaction to the first wave of attacks on foreigners, of the burning of the houses of refugees, of dark-skinned people beaten up in the middle of the street, extending as far as murder on occasions. In the meantime the law which had hitherto given asylum to refugees in Germany was repealed. For all that, the theme of the show was a strengthening of the meagre German sense of national feeling. There was also a contribution by Boris Groys entitled “The Refugee From an Aesthetic Perspective”, a film by the anti-Semite Syberberg, as well as many works on the subject of being German: flags, barbed wire, soldiers, memories and more memories, and a singular silence about all the real reasons.

Dialectics
The attacks against foreigners and refugee residences and the deaths caused a shock, which in our sector led to a singular didactics. Dialectics were proposed as an option: to understand the pride of being German as a controversy. Maybe some might think that one had to be tolerant with the contempt expressed towards other people, even, because this repressive tolerance in the Federal Republic of Germany was always able to neutralise any political sediment in art. A relationship could be established between this neutralisation and violent right-wing groups.

Work of destigmatisation
Or when one remains silent and consents when one hears the phrase “work of destigmatisation”, which was invented so as to be able to utilise the facilities of the Gauforum (administrative buildings combined with a square for military parades of the German National Socialist Party) built by the Nazis in Weimar for an exhibition of tendency art, whose appeal was also in mentioning the Bauhaus and Buchenwald (a concentration camp) in the same breath. A boldness that brought an air of historical giddiness, a set of contents and meanings to a new generation that was only able to relate to it all in a sentimental way because by now it had lost all sensitivity towards the real facts.
“Work of destigmatisation” is a phrase that comes from the “work of mourning”. This phrase was decisive in postwar debates about addressing the crimes of National Socialism in Germany and implies a mourning that can never come to an end. What does “destigmatisation” mean?

Worn out
At one time or another we feel too worn out to go on being indignant about this form of imposed feeling. We simply disconnect and try and concentrate on something else.

Films
The exhibition of the Flick Collection opened on 3 November 2005. Afterwards, there were lots of films about Hitler and the Second World War, which gave us the impression of being aimed at a permanent mutual pardon and which practised a particular form of recall, very close to psyche, without distance, images of conditioning, an industry of tears. You, me and obligatory feelings, like a skin so sticky it’s almost impossible to get it off, and which says that that’s how one must be.

Flick
When we heard that the heir to Flick, the biggest Nazi industrialist, wanted to set up his collection of art in Berlin, we simply couldn’t believe it. Because we were unable to separate that collection from the criminal origin of the money and the embezzlement of the indemnities to the slave workers in the Flick arms factories. We observed how in the discussions that were undertaken days before the opening the quality of the show acquired an amazing splendour, as if a means of contrast were involved.

Torture
Now one speaks of the subtle differences between hard interrogation and torture, one publicly discusses the issue and torture becomes thinkable. One speaks of feelings of security, of fear, one speaks of serious cases, without it dawning that they leave out human rights, because this category is of no use to any image of identity.

Corpse
In all cities castles, barracks, prisons and buildings for the bureaucracy are rebuilt, so that as an involuntary reaction one hopes to see their corresponding occupants enter them. And in fact, in 1992, in Berlin Cathedral, the remains of the last Prussian king were buried.

Freedom of opinion
Maybe it was a question, precisely due to this, of being a pluralist society and consequently of putting freedom of speech to the test by means of silence and acquiescence when all the Nazi crimes were lumped together and, for example, Hiroshima or the Stalinist concentration camps were made to disappear.

Methods
It also seemed to us that many of our methods?working with irony, information, exaggeration, the concentration of content in an image that explodes or says everything at once?that all this could no longer form part of, intervene in or collaborate on a new effort of our work that was national. A few years later, the West-German collector Paul Maenz gave his art collection to the city of Weimar. In an interview he said he’d developed a patriotic feeling without any ironical distance at all, that he no longer felt proud of being ashamed to be German. (“I’m proud of being German” was the slogan of the neo-Nazi movement of the 1980s and 90s).

National holiday
During the 1990s thematic shows about the German nation proliferated in Berlin. There were also special days for launching exhibitions and special meeting points for the art-loving public; for example the new national holiday, 3 October, Reunification Day, on which the first Berlin Biennale was opened, along with the gigantic new head office of the Daimiel Group. Building workers marched under the Brandenburg Gate while Daniel Barenboim conducted a concert of cranes to the rhythm of Beethoven.

Phalanx
Two days before the opening of the Flick Collection, a conference was held at the University in which former slave workers of the Flick companies spoke about the working and existential conditions of the Flick factories during Nazism. We were unable to see them, because installed between them and us was an army of newsmen who demanded a declaration about the collection, which was intended to be one of the most glamorous events in Germany that autumn.
One of the women interviewed declares that on principle guilt cannot be inherited, and after a pause, that she was convinced that a poster ought to be hung next to the collection on which it was stated that it had been financed by money proceeding from pillage and death.
It’s not a question, here, of clarifying what the media failed to inform people of when editing the news item. It’s a question of establishing a relationship between what was censored and the besieging of those witnesses.
Perhaps the censorship of this news phalanx could be compared to the collection’s public relations machine, which manages to constantly direct and rationalise criticism and protest in such a way that in the end they can be entered into its consensual account under the heading of pluralism.

Progressiveness
We never understood the events that follow as a chain of cause and effect. We always though that here, in our milieu, we were all leftists, or at least progressive types. But a long time afterwards we reached the point of understanding that progressiveness had set off in another direction.

Stalinism
In the presence of the Chancellor and his ministers a commemorative mass was celebrated in Buchenwald for the victims of Stalinism: German war criminals who, shortly after the capitulation, were prisoners in their own concentration camps, where they died.

Symptom
Maybe it was projection, but upon contemplating the Flick Collection it became obvious to us that in the choice of works it was hoped, in a way as unconfessed as it was deliberate, that they might function as a pretext for what we might call a symptom in some works, in their arrangement and in their exhibition: the constantly reiterated motifs of war and violence.

Creating taboos
The exhibition Images of Germany led to a critical revision of the concept of freedom in Western art. But it took a different direction. The curators noted that in West Germany a politically correct consensus had existed. They detected the necessary and natural existence of a national feeling repressed by that same consensus. “Repressed,” “converted into a taboo,” they said; then it became obvious that these concepts were to be separated from the reproach with which they were always united: the caricaturing of National-Socialist crime and its exploitation for the economic miracle, in order to enter into another semantic combination: that of “nationhood”.
We experienced the exigency of an alleged physical disposition. It was suggested to us, moreover, that we were victims and that we join the ranks of a community of Germans who had never perceived things in this way.

Suspicion
It was suspected that tolerance was only an indication of self-deprecation and of a repressed Germanness. And also that this tolerance is the same one which accepts that nowadays undesirable foreigners are murdered as the very proof and confirmation of this self-deprecation.

Recycled
It may be that the Flick Collection is the symptom of the fact that it’s no longer a question of making a taboo of the Nazi past, but of recycling it, of taking one step forward and one step back; of an appropriation of history, of an energy which legitimates the continuity of political chauvinism; of taking Auschwitz as a justification for “humanitarian interventions”. During the opening of the collection, Flick presented himself as a human being who indemnifies former slave workers with his own conscience.
This form of humanitarianism has proved especially repulsive to us, the way it merges with that bad taste of the privileged, of those of noble spirit, who decide as they see fit about freedom and autonomy, as a triviality that can, with great difficulty, hide the brutality with which the explicit and gratuitous pantomime of ignorance, sovereignty and a power over justice and injustice puts in an appearance

Reconstruction
Revisionism everywhere; two candles for Dresden, a Gerhard Richter picture reproduced and enlarged to the size of a building as a logo for the new Art Association, and in homage to the nights of bombing, a commemoration day that was manifested in donations for rebuilding the Frauenkirche. Reconstruction, as if we were in 1945, which only means that after the unification of the two Germanys a new and shameless reconstruction got under way, as if the leaders had finally acquired the right to mutually express their satisfaction.


Technical details

Original title:
Sense títol
Registration number:
2694
Artist:
Creischer, Alice
Date created:
2005
Date acquired:
2006
Fonds:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Work on paper (unique)
Media:
Collage on paper
Dimensions:
13 unitats
Credits:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Private long-term loan
Copyright:
© Alice Creischer, VEGAP, Barcelona
It has accessibility resources:
No

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

For more information on the work or the artist, please consult MACBA's Library. To request a loan of the work, please write to colleccio [at] macba.cat.

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Related

Images

Alice Creischer, "Sense títol" , 2005 (detail)

Audios

Son[i]a #55 Bartomeu Marí and Alice Creischer
21.02.2008
To reconstruct the disorder of a possible city. To use the model, not as an element in a project, but as the representation of something that already exists.
Jordi Colomer