Wir (alle) sind das Volk [We (all) are the people], 2003/2020
“Wir sind das Volk” (We are the people) was the slogan with which East Germans rebelled against the self-proclaimed GDR (German Democratic Republic) in 1989, a repressive regime that called its parliament “Volkskammer,” its police “Volkspolizei,” and its army “Volksarmee.” Eventually the 1989 uprising led to the demise of the GDR, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany.
Some 10 years later, this very slogan was adopted by right-wing, xenophobic groups in Germany with a very different meaning.
In 2003, when I was invited to make a proposal for the commemoration of the 1989 uprising that originated at the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicolas Church) in Leipzig, I felt it was necessary to specify who “the people” are, whom I was ready to celebrate, namely everyone, irrespective of their national or ethnic background. I therefore proposed to project onto the church: “Wir (alle) sind das Volk” [We (all) are the people].
At documenta 14 in Athens and in Kassel, this slogan was displayed on banners and posters not only in the respective language of the two countries and the languages understood by most foreign documenta visitors, but also in the languages of the migrants and refugees who have come to Greece and to Germany in recent years and are exposed to xenophobic aggression in both countries. Among the languages are Arabic, Kurdish, Turkish, Farsi (as spoken in Afghanistan), and the language of refugees from Eritrea.
documenta 14, Athens, Greece, April 8 - July 16, 2017
OCCUPY MANA: Artists Need to Create on the Same Scale That Society Has the Capacity to Destroy (Year 1), curated by Phong Bui & Rail Curatorial Projects, Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, NJ, October 15 – December 15, 2017
Hans Haacke, Artist’s Institute, New York, NY, April 4 – 21, 2018, Hôtel de Ville, Brussels-Molenbeek, 2018
Qalandiya Biennale, Ramallah, Palestine, 2018
Dresden, Dresdner Hochschule für Bildende Künste, 2018
Chemnitz, Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, 2018
Bratislava, Kunsthalle Bratislava, 2018
From Theory to Practice: Trajectories of the Whitney Independent Study Program, University Hall Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA, January 14, 2019 - March 8, 2019
Leipzig, Hochschule, 2018-2019
It’s Urgent, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 18 – August 11, 2019; traveled to Luma Westbau, Zurich, Switzerland, August 13 – November 15, 2019; LUMA Arles, France, June 29 – September 27, 2020
New Monuments for New Cities, The High Line, New York, NY, September 26 – October 23, 2019
Halle, Kunsthochschule, 2019
Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany, 2019
Hans Haacke: All Connected, New Museum, New York, NY, October 24, 2019 – January 26, 2020
News, etc., Galeria Moises Perez de Albeniz, Madrid, November 15, 2019 – February 28, 2020
Hans Haacke: 20 Years of “To the Population”, curated by Oliver Schwarz, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.), Akademie der Künste at Pariser Platz, Gropius Bau, KINDL – Center for Contemporary Art, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Volksbühne Berlin, SAVY Contemporary, Zeiss Major Planetarium, Germany, September 2020 – January 2021
For six decades, Hans Haacke (b. 1936 in Cologne, Germany) has been a pioneer in kinetic art, environmental art, Conceptual art, and institutional critique. One-person exhibitions of his work have been presented at numerous major institutions worldwide, including the recent retrospective at the New Museum in New York (2019). His work has appeared in five editions of documenta from 1972 to 2017 and at biennials in Gwangju, Johannesburg, Lyon, Mercosur, New York, São Paolo, Sharjah, Sydney and Tokyo. Haacke was awarded the Golden Lion at the 1993 Venice Biennale with Nam June Paik and the commission for the Fourth Plinth on Trafalgar Square in 2014. He is the recipient of the prestigious Goslar Kaiserring for 2020. This fall, the city of Berlin will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Haacke’s public artwork Der Bevölkerung (To the Population), a permanent installation at the German Reichstag.
Hans Haacke is represented by Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.