A picture may be worth a thousand words, but that doesn't make it self-explanatory. What would happen if we take it out of context?
Isn't a burning barn in the middle of nowhere, highlighted by the light of the sunset, an alluring image? How does your perception change, when you figure out that it references a moment in time and a physical place where people were being burnt inside, and that it was not an accident but part of a genocide? So if we think about the pogrom of Jedwabne – What shocks us more, the fact that a group of people killed the Jewish minority in their village in 1941 or that it wasn't Germans – but Poles who were responsible? Isn't it disgraceful that we are still unable to talk openly about what happened?
Isn't it cute how a father is carrying his son on his back during a political happening? Does it remind you of pictures from the 80s and the Solidarność? What happens if you learn that they were walking in a march during Independence Day and that this march is organized by nationalist extremist groups?
When is it essential to keep and defend a narrative? And which ones should be questioned? Why does Berlin erase one building from an oppressive system…
…to replace it with a reconstruction of a building from another oppressive system? Why is it a scandal to call the Hohenzollern dynasty an organized crime family? And why is the Fernsehturm, a relic of the German Democratic Republic, still there? Why don't we erase East-Berlin completely and restitute the urban landscape from 1939?
So why do we keep the buildings of the concentration camps? For remembrance? But why does the German state not recognize the Herero and Namaqua genocide from the first decade of the 20th century? Has too much time passed? Weren't the victims white enough? Are genocides only committed by Nazis? Are Germans the only nazis? Is there a nazi in Iceland?
Why is it important more than ever to contest the history we have been taught? The year 2020 started with an open fire around the tinderbox, and we seemed to reach a point where nothing can surprise us anymore. But that might be a good omen, as there is not much of an illusion in the current condition. Accepting our dark sides and the destroying of worlds of make-believe we create in our mind will allow us to talk openly about them and change them in long-term. So let's take a bath in the chaotic truth.
Lukas Bury (b. 1991 in Bonn, Germany) is a visual artist interested in the perception of images. Through his paintings, he tries to combine his german-polish background with the cultural context and historical narratives of the countries he has been living in and to contest them. Lukas holds a Diploma in Fine Arts from the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Braunschweig and spent two semesters at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan as an exchange student.