Entartet - created by Kai Fischer in association with Vanishing Point Theatre Company and CCA Glasgow, presented at Bonhoga by Shetland Arts.
In a bizarre twist of fate, the news this week that German police have recovered 1,500 modernist artworks confiscated as "degenerate art" by the Nazis or taken from Jewish collectors in the 1930s and 1940s, comes just as Shetland Arts presents Entartet at Bonhoga, a sound installation and performance project that brings to life the 1937 exhibition that showcased such despised works.
With the Nazi’s rise to power in the 1930s, modernist art was banned on the grounds it was ‘un-German’ or Jewish Bolshevist in nature. To showcase this apparently perverse and immoral work the work was toured around the country as a kind of artistic freak show, with work by artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Chagall and Klee on display.
It is these works that have been discovered by German police, stashed in a flat in Munich owned by the 80 year old son of the original art dealer/collector who, although half Jewish, was commissioned by The Nazis to sell the ‘degenerate’ art abroad. It seems he instead hid the work, claiming later that it was destroyed in the bombing of Dresden.
This incredible tale of the Degenerate Art show of 1937 is brought into sharp focus in a five day exhibition at Bonhoga. It takes the form of a sound installation piece with additional performances, running from Wednesday 6th until Sunday 10th November. Entartet creates a space to imagine the images on display, the exhibition itself, and the distant, brutal world in which a now infamous event could happen. Using the original text from the guidebook to the 1937 Munich exhibition 'Degenerate Art', Entartet explores both a historical document and, through it, the very dark sides of populism and state-sponsored intolerance.
While the exhibition installation runs in the main gallery during normal opening hours from Wednesday to Sunday there will be two performances within the exhibition that are free and open to all. These are on Wednesday from 6-8pm and Thursday from 1-3pm. During these times the performance can be joined or left at any point.