An Exhibition Evoking German Angst
Carsten Fock engages with memories of a war-traumatized Germany, a country ill at ease with its own history. Indeed, the West as a whole was acutely uncomfortable with any allusion to the glories that were once Germany. Its heroes, music, architecture and philosophers had been co-opted by nefarious forces. As a result, practising artists found themselves culturally orphaned. This situation yielded a fantastic basis for a critical arts culture, vigorous and vibrant in its moment but undermined and destabilized by the absence of roots.
It was visual artists who first demanded the reinstatement of history by reintroducing neo-expressionism and conceptual art. They used the symbols and icons of the past with resolute pride. They addressed the national complexes inherent in the individual German, and provided a release valve for the insecurities and shame that gnawed at the hearts of ordinary people.
Angst is still part of German history. It could not and cannot be otherwise. But that history must not be locked away.
Carsten negotiates and reworks his angst in Mallorca: he has been a regular visitor to the mountain village of Sa Coma near Andratx for the past five years. Most of the pieces on display were created there while the remainder were made in Vienna.
*"Glückauf!" is a word German miners have used since the sixteenth century to greet each other. We might simply translate it as "Good luck!" but it signifies much more. Mining was a risky occupation, and not all who went down into the mines returned to the surface. "Good luck!" - at once prosaic and poetic - enshrines both the belief in a shared future and the angst associated with the fear of loss. The soul of the German nation encapsulated in a simple little salutation.