Jakob Ganslmeier portrayed former neo-Nazis in the process of departing from their previous identities as right-wing extremists. The individuals portrayed are part of the initiative EXIT-Germany. The photographs show tattoo removals or cover-ups, as symbols that for years expressed an identity and a political worldview disappear slowly. The erasure of signs inscribed into the skin is a very deliberate step for those leaving; it is costly, lengthy and painful.
Black-and-white photographs depict historical NS symbols which remain visible at numerous outdoor locations. Despite the process of denazification and attempts at removal, these signs or their traces remain visible in a range of locations; on houses, in decorative bands and in facades. Ganslmeier's images reveal those fragments as well as examine their wider spatial context in villages, streets and settlements.
By situating these individual stories into a socio-political context, this work poses the question: to what extent is the German past really past?
I did an apprenticeship as a butcher, but I was a Nazi 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Read the interview with Steven
The weight and complexity of the subject matter in the project, both historically and in the political context of the here and now, in itself implies the way visitors need to be engaged in the exhibition installation. It is vital that the narrative and complete story prevail. At the same time, this should avoid that single images or depicted symbols become isolated visual landmarks.
The exhibition design convincingly stages the impressive impact and monumental quality the images contain. Simultaneously the essential sense of vulnerability and the possibility of a ‘personal encounter’ is accomplished.
— Kummer & Herrman (exhibition design)
Haut, Stein won a bronze award in European Design Awards 2022 in the category exhibition design
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAK) Kraków
Die Anderen sind Wir, 2019 | Brandenburgisches Landesmuseum für moderne Kunst, Cottbus
Haut, Stein | Spandau, Bastion Kronprinz 2020-2021
Neo-Right 2019 | BWA Galeria, Zielona Gora, Poland
Haut, Stein | Villa Heinrichwerk, Ostritz
Werkschau 2019 | FH Bielefeld
Haut, Stein points to the ongoing virulence of German history and vehemently objects to the the idea that the chapter of fascism and National has been written to its end.
Ulrike Kremeier, Director of Brandenburg State Museum of Modern ART for Foam Magazine, Motherlands (2022)
Berliner Kunst Magazine