ulrike meinhof | berlin | 2004

press release

press release: thomas kilpper at galerie meerrettich / pavillon an der volksbühne / rosa-luxemburg-platz, berlin / contakt: 0049 (0)30 28879710 – email: info AT

ulrike meinhof - ausstellung vom 31.3. bis 9.5.2004

thomas kilpper opens his exhibition in the pavillon at rosa-luxemburg-platz
on march 31st at 8.00pm with his sculpture of a larger than life-size head: ulrike meinhof.

rosa-luxemburg-platz, under different names, has for almost 100 years played many different roles as the setting for political confrontations and monuments. numerous demonstrations of the left, for instance after the murder of rosa luxemburg and karl liebknecht, but also the threateningly staged parades of the nazis, had their starting point here.
in 1928 the kpd (communist party) tried to erect a monument to lenin on the site of the present pavilion. the then berlin senate, however, refused the project. Just a few years later the national socialists erected instead the horst wessel monument. after some time, it is now proposed to erect an art work as a memorial to rosa luxemburg.

with ulrike meinhof thomas kilpper intends to extend the specific politicisation of this place into the present, not without, however, consecutively creating new breaks and critically questioning the stylisations and clichés that accompany such a project. his sculpture also references the identically named johann kresnik production in the volksbuhne in 1993.

ulrike meinhof, like almost no other west german post-war leftist, stands for a long-term political confrontation with the power of this state, in which she became radicalised from a critical journalist into a revolutionary underground fighter. she was engaged as a student in the 50’s against the rearmament and atomic armament of the brd, before publishing political essays over a period of ten years, particularly in the magazine, konkret. finally, at the height of the us-war against vietnam, she took up arms herself and co-founded the red army faction.

in 1972, after 2 years of being hunted and posters on every advertising pillar throughout the country, she was captured. During her imprisonment she was at times kept completely away from others, she saw and heard no-one, was totally isolated from the outside world. during the big stammheim trial she sat with andreas baader, gudrun ensslin and jan carl raspe on the defendants’ bench. shortly after she delivered an extensive speech and accusation against the us-american ‘engagement’ in indochina, she was found, on the 9th may, 1976, dead in her cell. the state has not managed to clarify the contradictions in and well-founded doubts about its suicide theory or to explain comprehensively how her death occurred.

ulrike meinhof would have been seventy years old this year. After her death her brain was removed without the consent of her relatives and held for over a quarter of a century for ‘scientific purposes’ in the laboratories of german universities. already in 1973 the state legal prosecutor wanted, against ulrike meinhof’s will, to operate on her brain, and were prevented from doing so only through international publicity and criticism. the media reaction to this ‘brain theft’ partly illustrates the return of this old attempt to pathologise ulrike meinhof and consequently the whole of revolutionary politics. in opposition to this attempt the artist places the reality of the works of ulrike meinhof herself; her texts and letters from 1960 – 1976.

© thomas kilpper
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