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    Onlookers stand next to the fallen marble-like heads of European politicians.

    The Fallen: Munich Street Art Exposes German Discontent With Merkel, the EU

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    Daniele Pozzati
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    Set in Munich's central Max-Joseph-Platz, "The Errants. European Disfigurations" by artist duo Bankleer, is a sculptural performance that "transforms the public space into a stage for questions to be asked about urgent current issues."

    "The Errants are EU politicians," explains Karin Kasböck, one of the artists, "but also each of us, you, me, them," — powerless citizens lead by unaccountable bodies.  

    A leaflet with details about the performance, explains that the show consists of "monument-like heads of leading actors in politics and economy, of historical resistance fighters, and of psychological archetypes, moving excessively in the public space."

    Amused and puzzled, passers-by stumble into frantically moving heads, uttering fragments of slogans familiar to anyone living in the EU: "structural reforms", "market liberalization", "saving measures" and so on. 

    Fallen marble-like heads of European politicians in Munich's central Max-Joseph-Platz.
    © Photo: Karin Kasböck, Bankleer Artist Duo
    Fallen marble-like heads of European politicians in Munich's central Max-Joseph-Platz.

    The disjointed sculpture heads represent the many European leaders who are disjointed from their social body — their citizens. The former is itself an "illusion," given the current "lack of social and economic order."

    Other heads — of historical resistance fighters — remind spectators what all this talk of handling yet another financial crisis via "structural reforms" boils down to: a gradual erosion of democracy and national sovereignty.

    The Errants. European Disfigurations by artist duo Bankleer.
    © Photo: Karin Kasböck, Bankleer Artist Duo
    "The Errants. European Disfigurations" by artist duo Bankleer.

    The artists make no efforts to explain this in a rational way. They want people to visualize and experience how grotesque and funny the alienation of heads from bodies is. This is really a metaphor for what European societies are going through, for example via the increasing virtualization of the economy

    "With our sculptural performance we try, through carnevalesque practices, to answer something by magnification, alienation, protuberance," Karin Kasböck told Sputnik.

    "It is a method described by the Russian scholar and literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin."

    The heads of "sleepy Merkel" and of the President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, feature prominently in the show. But Merkel's head proves to be the most popular out of all of them. Rather than sleepy, her head appears as though it has fallen down — as if it has been vandalized. It's a scene that reminds one of the fall of Rome. 

    Are ruins awaiting Germany, and the EU, because of democratic deficits, financial meltdown, wars and excessive migration perhaps? 

    "We worry about barbarian inequalities, not barbaric invasions," said Kasböck. 

    "Europe is confronted through various crises with a global reality it cannot longer ignore. The unlimited freedom of capital is not what we need to deal with these challenges. Europe must find an answer to barbaric inequalities."

    And why is Angela Merkel's head immobile? What is it doing there? 

    "During the show, an activist climbs onto the sleeping Angela Merkel. She explores her brain mass and experiences an Odyssey in her skull cavity," Kasböck explained — and it would be easy, though wrong, to read this as a joke. 

    "The activist then confronts Merkel's sleepy head with the EU democratic deficits, the capitalist excesses, and suggests to her that another path is possible. It is the path of solidarity between European nations," Kasböck told Sputnik.

    "We stand for solidarity among European nations," says the other artist, Christoph Maria Leitner, "and that includes Russia."  

    "We are against barriers and borders. Only capital can move freely. This must change." 

    The show is financed by City of Munich Department of Art and Culture, in cooperation with Berlin's Maxim Gorki Theater

    Having toured Austria, Berlin and now Munich, the Bankleer artistic duo intend to bring their work to other cities as well. So far, they have not failed to attract improvised crowds, to amuse, puzzle — and perhaps, even inspire them.

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    Tags:
    performance art, street art, migrant crisis, politicians, democracy, show, politics, economy, art, City of Munich Department of Art and Culture, Maxim Gorki Theater, European Union, Angela Merkel, Mario Draghi, Germany, Europe, Munich
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