A small drama unfolded at the Chemnitz Art Collections in Germany over a politically-charged artwork.
A work by Peng! Collective was removed by the German museum on Friday for making explicit statements about the Antifa. The piece, titled Antifa – Myth and Truth, was part of the “Gregenwarten/Presences” show. The work talked about the horseshoe theory and how all major German political parties were complicit in it. The work even went as far as explicitly naming the parties, including the far-right Alternativ für Deutschland.
The “horseshoe theory” is a political theory which suggests that far-left and far-right ideologies have more in common with each other than other ideologies closer to them in the spectrum. It is a popular theory that often seeks to draw an equivalence between far-right groups (like neo-Nazis) and far-left ones (like Antifa). However, the theory has also been debunked due to its broad brushstrokes, selective comparisons and lack of nuances.
After being briefly removed, it was allowed to return to the exhibition after a sign was added to it. The sign stated that the institute did not reflect the views expressed in the work. Nika Blum, who represented the collective, admit that the institute asked to add the text if the work was to return to the display. However, German art mogul Frederic Bussmann suggested that the names of political parties should also be removed to make the work more neutral. Bussmann is the director of Chemnitz Art Collections, which consists of four major art institutes – Museum am Theaterplatz, the Schlossbergmuseum, the Museum Gunzenhauser, and the Henry van de Velde Museum.
The Peng! Collective has appeared in art events like the Berline Biennale and Manifesta. The “Gegenwarten / Presences”, which aimed at promoting art about socio-political issues about the city of Chemnitz, will run until October 25.