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Political slogan becomes art

Posted February. 06, 2020 07:50,   

Updated February. 06, 2020 07:50


Documenta, an exhibition held every five years in Kassel, Germany, features several pieces of work that puzzle viewers, making them think if they truly express art. In 2017, the exhibition gained much attention as it was held in Athens at the same time. Streets of the two cities had been adorned with large banners and posters that read “We all are the people” in 12 different languages.

Such advertisement or banner-like printings had been created by Hans Haake, a German conceptual artist. Haake is known for his crucial works in the form of advertisement or journalism, most notably his ballot box that was unveiled at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1970. At that time, he placed the ballot box at the entrance of the exhibition and asked viewers: "Would the fact that New York Governor Rockefeller support for the Vietnam War be a reason for your not voting for him?" Rockefeller was a board member at MoMA at that time. An overwhelming number of people replied “Yes.” This installation came to be known as an example of institutional critique.

The wording Haake used at the Documenta exhibition was also taken from political slogans that appeared in Monday protests in East Germany. The citizens of East Germany, who were fed up the injustice of dictatorship, took to the streets shouting “Wir sind das Volk!,” which eventually brought down the Berlin Wall. When the refugee issue surfaced in Europe, PEGIDA, a far right-wing organization in Germany, adopted the slogan again, referring “Germans” as “we” and justifying discrimination on refugees and refugees.

The German artist wished to share the true meaning of this slogan to the world at a time when Europe was torn with the refugee issue, which was why he chose printings on the streets instead of artwork in museums. The rainbow colors shown on both sides of the letters symbolize LGBT as well as hope. Eventually the message of this artwork reminds us that all people are equal and should not be discriminated based on their sexual orientation, skin color or religion.