“Mercifully, we still live in a society where varying views about artistic excellence can flourish… Fischer’s important and disturbing installation reminds us of how fragile that freedom can be.” - Joyce McMillan
Kai Fischer’s powerful performance and installation piece, inspired by the 1937 exhibition in Munich of Degenerate Art, will be presented at Bonhoga Gallery from Weds 6 to Sun 11 Nov. The work, which was nominated for a prestigious Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland earlier this year, will be shown as a sound installation running during normal gallery hours, with two additional performances, on Wednesday 6 from 6-8pm and Thursday from 12-2pm. These are both rolling performances which can be joined or left at any point, they are free and open to all.
Entartet reflects on the infamous Die Austellung Entartete Kunst - a “name and shame” exhibition showing the works of modern artists staged by the German government. Arising from Hitler’s fury at what he perceived as the threat of modernist art, the exhibition was the brainchild of Joseph Goebbels. The pieces on display were raided from public galleries and included works by Chagall, Kandinsky, Klee, Picasso and Mondrian. They were used to ridicule the different Modern Art movements, which the Nazi regime deemed 'degenerate'. Soon after the exhibition, many of the included artists and their colleagues were no longer allowed to exhibit, work, or paint at all. Publicly ridiculed and with their careers and livelihoods destroyed, many were forced to emigrate or went into inner emigration.
EntartetEntartet uses the original text of the exhibition's guidebook to create an audio guide and to evoke a moment in history which resonates with contemporary times. Part installation, part performance it creates an environment in which to experience both this infamous event and the world in which it existed. Lifting the lid on an exceptional piece of propaganda, Entartet explores a very dark side of populism which is as relevant today as it was 75 years ago.
“I wanted to look at populism and intolerance,” says Fischer. “What makes the text of the Entartet catalogue both interesting and chilling is its seeming reasonableness. To begin with it reads like a contemporary blog or tabloid article, but is then taken to horrific extremes. The outsider is vilified by the group which neither understands nor wishes to understand them. They become the scapegoats on to whom all the ills of society are projected.”
Jane Matthews of Shetland Arts said: “It’s a rare treat to have a visiting performance and installation piece of this calibre in Shetland, with such historical value. I’d encourage everyone to experience it, and for schools to make contact if they’d like to visit the gallery for the performance. There’s a huge amount to be learned from the it.”
Entartet is created by Kai Fischer in association with CCA and Vanishing Point. Sound designer: Matt Padden. Performer: Pauline Goldsmith