Monday, 12 November 2012

Entartet

The Old Ambulance Depot, Edinburgh
4 stars
It’s the cosiness that draws you into theatre designer Kai Fischer’s 
moodily lit installation and performance piece. The casual listener 
might never guess where the words being uttered in such soothing female 
tones through speakers attached to a series of wooden platforms are 
taken from. Once you realise they are drawn verbatim from the catalogue 
for the Nazi-organised Degenerate Art Exhibition that took place in 
Munich in 1937, the piece takes on a new measure of seriousness. The 
exhibition, organised by Adolf Hitler and his cronies, aimed to deride 
and discredit anything the state could not control or understand.
As the sensors that operate each speaker are triggered whenever a 
viewer draws close, the gentlest of cacophonies comes gradually and 
shockingly into focus. When performers Pauline Goldsmith and Pauline 
Lockhart draw the audience into what initially resembles a children’s 
story-telling session, the content of their sing-song conspiracy is 
even more chilling.
Goldsmith, Lockhart and the disembodied voices talk of work being made 
by ‘lunatics’ and ‘cretins’ with the casual contempt which these days 
are usually the preserve of those who treat the Turner Prize as if it’s 
a joke. The fact that the women here are denigrating works by Picasso, 
Paul Klee and others who recognised an abstract world beyond the Nazis 
Aryan vision says much about the 1937 exhibition’s anti-intellectual 
stance.
With sound design by Matt Padden, Fischer has made a major statement on 
the dangers of how an oppressive state reduces things to a lowest 
common denominator at their peril. This hauntingly mesmeric treatment 
of the subject is both a meditation and a warning that all should take 
heed of.

The Herald, November 12th 2012

ends

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