Elmgreen & Dragset's Berlin memorial vandalized

Memorial for Homosexual Victims of the Nazi Regime was daubed with paint on Holocaust Memorial Day
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Memorial for the Homosexual Victims of the Nazi Regime (2008) by Elmgreen & Dragset. As featured in Art & Queer Culture
Memorial for the Homosexual Victims of the Nazi Regime (2008) by Elmgreen & Dragset. As featured in Art & Queer Culture

Though they deal in humour and irony, Elmgreen & Dragset know how to make a serious point. Back in 2008, the artists opened Memorial for the Homosexual Victims of the Nazi Regime in Berlin’s most popular park, partly because of the place’s popularity as a gay meeting spot, and partly in recognition of the city’s darker past.

“The Holocaust Memorial points to Berlin’s Tiergarten as a longstanding location for public sex and refers to previous works that use cruising as an embodiment of Michel Foucault’s understanding of power as something everywhere present and everywhere subject to subversion,” explains the text in our newly updated book, Art & Queer Culture. “It also draws attention to homosexual victims of the Nazis.

In the park the artists have placed a massive, seventy-five-tonne cement stele with a window through which the curious can watch a small video projection depicting two men kissing. Every two years the projection will be replaced by a new video of a same-sex encounter, each made by a different artist, ensuring the work’s reading as a living memorial and allowing for the inclusion of imagery of and by lesbians – another group who were victims of the Nazis.” 

 

Memorial for the Homosexual Victims of the Nazi Regime (2008) by Elmgreen & Dragset. As featured in Art & Queer Culture
Memorial for the Homosexual Victims of the Nazi Regime (2008) by Elmgreen & Dragset. As featured in Art & Queer Culture

Of course, even in a progressive, diverse city such as Berlin, there are groups who still disapprove of this behaviour. The German magazine Monopol reports that the Memorial was daubed with black paint on Sunday, and that this was possibly a political act, since 27 January was Holocaust Memorial Day.  

Nevertheless, this will hardly hinder the monument, nor stop so dynamic and resourceful a pair of artists; as Art & Queer Culture notes, the monument was vandalized within months of opening back in 2008. However, it does suggest that this serious work stands as both a historical marker, and a beacon for future guidance.

 

Elmgreen & Dragset

For more on Elmgreen & Dragset’s place in art, order a copy of Art & Queer Culture; for more on their wider work, take a look at their forthcoming Phaidon book. 


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