Among Emptiness – Poignant Photography Depicting Classical Art With One Dark Commonality | Alternative Fruit
In a sparsely decorated viewing room in a museum is an exhibit named “A Strange New Beauty”. The display by Troy Brauntuch is simple, a selection of 32 prints are in plain and non-invasive frames. When looking at the images in the photos, viewers will see that the colours are inverted. The prints are done on beautiful gloss which seems to glow with luminosity. The images are of neoclassical nudes and stunning landscape paintings. When looking deeper into the images of academic interest, we can see that there is hardly anything there. Almost as if the displays were incomplete or thrown together without cultural thought, we wonder what the exhibition is trying to say. Strange indeed.
It's when we realise that these images are taken from Nazi Germany that things start to make sense. Images of the Fuehrer and his ominous logo have been avoided and in some cases scrubbed out of the photo. What is the artist trying to say? Perhaps it's a bit like astronomy. When we want to explore a star, we have to block out some of the light. It's too bright to see properly and only with filters can we get to know what we're looking at.
Astronomers use disks to cover the body of a star or the sun in order to view its atmosphere, and surrounding objects. When we block out the evil of the Nazi regime that we associate with its leaders and symbols, we're left with the human side of it. How helpless do you feel when your government does something you don't like? How many of us know how to oppose the actions of our leaders in a way that works? What if the opposition to leadership has been executed in your country? You'd not want that to happen to you.
The works in the photographs make us look at this period in time in the negative through a filter and it helps to dilute our feelings about it. When we can swallow the object, it makes it easier to digest and embody its truth. What is the truth in the Nazi period? What moral to the story is there? Is there anything positive we can learn from National Socialism once we filter out the bad things? Did the trains run on time?
These photos are of the so-called “Great German Art Exhibitions”, which showcased art made by commission from the Third Reich. Knowing that the aesthetic of each piece was due to a racist ideology perhaps changes the way we view them. If an evil person finds a beautiful woman beautiful, are we to deny her beauty? No, surely that's not fair. We have to transcend the initial desire to repel and allow ourselves to move beyond reactionary judgements.
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