Highly acclaimed German artist Gregor Schneider has brought his exhibit “Unsubscribe” to Zachęta under the curatorship of Anda Rottenberg. He explores the notion of house in both its symbolic and literal sense and confronts the idea of its metaphorical character, as it stands a silent living witness to the activities of its inhabitants
by Neha Luthra
Exhibitions open (29.11.2014–1.02.2015)
Schneider presents fragments of the destroyed childhood quarters of Joseph Goebbels, the notorious Nazi propaganda minister. The artist had discovered that his small hometown of Rheydt in Germany was also Goebbels’. And after stumbling upon Goebbels’ childhood home, which had become a pilgrimage point for Neo-Nazis, Schneider purchased it and conducted an extensive documentary of the property.
His ultimate aim was to destroy Goebbels’ house without completely obliterating its memory in order to present the problem of unwanted monuments. But instead, he shows that the former Nazi’s home is average – like any other.
Schneider has, both literally and figuratively, transported Goebbels’ residence to the museum. Rubble from deconstructed interiors lies in piles. Videos help shape the overall experience of daily life in Goebbels’ house.
The remaining fragments presented are domestic and innocent in nature, with their ordinariness masking the stories of its inhabitants. Indeed, without any prior knowledge of the Nazi connection, the house may seem somewhat banal with no explicit references in display. A paradox seems to play here: A man from the ordinary, whose actions were far from it.
The historical and political context of “Unsubscribe”can be considered alongside the other exhibition also curated by Anda Rottenberg “Progress and Hygiene,” which is also currently on display.
The exhibit is composed of original work and historical material contributed by both Polish and foreign artists in a diverse range of media. The works form a critical analysis on the notion of progress, which is considered to reflect an improvement and development of society – it is thus a comment on the pitfalls of modernity in itself.
Aspects of the display are thought provoking. They touch on themes such as genetic engineering, social health, eugenics, racial hygiene, and even cosmetic surgery – all controversial topics. It examines notions of modernism, its impact, and where contemporary modernization is headed.
Both exhibits are worth visiting. They leave the viewer with a lingering thought.