A tram stop in a midsize city in western Germany: people of different ages and religious affiliations get on and off. In the foreground, a Muslim woman in hijab eyes the camera with an expression of fatigue as well as assertiveness; next to her, a rainbow-colored poster is emblazoned with the sentence “We (all) are the people” in twelve different languages and a variety of scripts. The picture – a comment on Hans Haacke’s own art – may look like an incidental snapshot, but it actually brings a politically charged situation into focus: he created the poster for last year’s Documenta 14. It was displayed on tram stops in Kassel as well as the walls of countless buildings in Athens and, in a large banner format, on Documenta venues in both cities. The edition he created for “Texte zur Kunst” is a photograph Haacke took of his own work in situ in Kassel.Popularized by the Monday demonstrations in Leipzig 1989–1990, “Wir sind das Volk” (“We are the people”) quickly became the catchphrase of German reunification. Yet even then, it was not just a “people” bent on “peaceful revolution” that interpellated itself with these words. In 2003, Haacke submitted a proposal for a monument commemorating the protests at Leipzig’s St. Nicholas Church, to project what had come to be widely seen as primarily a xenophobic slogan onto the church’s exterior wall at night. This cooptation by the old and new right is now complete: chanted at Pegida rallies, “We are the people” stands for a nationalist anti-migrant politics of exclusion. Haacke’s picture of the poster is not only an urgent plea for tolerance and an embrace of cultural diversity transcending national boundaries; it also illustrates how these values are ultimately incompatible with the concept of the Volk as such.
Pigment print on Photo Rag paper, image size: 16 x 24 cm, paper size: 19 x 27 cm, edition: 100 + 20 A. P., numbered and signed certificate, € 350.- plus shipping.