BURKHARD SCHITTNY, Fineart
LEGACY PROJECTS 2023
INSTALLATION VIEW (mockups)
framed inkjet prints / 75 x 60 cm / 30 x 24 in / 7 + 2AP
framed inkjet prints / 125 x 100 cm / 49 x 39 in / 7 + 2AP
framed inkjet prints / 175 x 140 cm / 69 x 55 in / 7 + 2AP
The Visible End of Colonialism
The classical memorial sculpture is a symbol of immortality. Made of marble or bronze, it is created for eternity. It is meant to testify permanently to how important they are or were, who stand here at a great height, on pedestals, above the heads of ordinary people. It is an expression of reverence and legitimisation of power.
Today, monuments, especially those of the colonial past, are the subject of explosive debate. „With the toppling of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol, we have entered a post-heroic age,“ says Burkhard Schittny. In his photographic series HEROES, a continuation of the group of works „Legacy Projects“, the artist poses critical questions about a system of representation, about a celebrated memory of power, which was and is also being fiercely discussed by the „Black Lives Matter“ movement. It could well be that many of the monuments still erected today will soon no longer exist. All the more important to photograph them now.
Schittny questions with the artistic documentation of the monuments of colonial commanders (such as the British field marshal and commander-in-chief of the British army Garnet Joseph Wolseley, who fought in various colonial wars, Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, who commanded British troops in the suppression of the Mahdi uprising in Sudan and in the Boer War, or Arthur Travers Harris, who raged as a colonial warmonger in Rhodesia and is responsible for the area bombing of civilian villages in the early 1920s) not only the political-social objectives of the monument cult.
He also scrutinises the aesthetics of these objects. The dethronement of the HEROES, their fall, he carries out conceptually-photographically: Schittny now reproduces the figures without pedestals, but life-size and in all precision. The black-and-white and colour photographs show them in the long shot in front of a black background, but also in views and details. One can now look directly into the eyes of the perpetrators, which could hardly be seen from below.
This process allows the physiognomy of those portrayed to speak to us more clearly. They are representations of fallen HEROES, repeatedly defaced by bird droppings or graffiti, to which we do not have to look up. Through the precision of photography, by making every detail visible, Schittny exposes the perpetrators, whom we can look at as if through a microscope.
They are not heroes - on the contrary: Schittny reverses the exaggeration and shows the falsification of history. The mentioning of the perpetrators by name and the history of their crimes are part of the captions, in which the history of the victims is explicitly acknowledged. Burkhard Schittny: „For me, HEROES is about reimagining the meaning of monuments, raising awareness for the history of colonial or military violence or making it possible in the first place.“
Marc Peschke, 2023