Beginning in the spring of 1933, the National Socialists were manifesting their newly acquired claim to power on all levels. An important aspect of this was penetrating society, even into private space. This not only meant idealizing conservative gender roles and images of the family or introducing “Heil Hitler” as an everyday greeting and the glorification of the dictator but was also reflected in everyday life, for example, in the design of interiors, furniture, and decorations. Henrike Naumann takes the widespread presence of propaganda in daily life as a reason to reflect in the exhibition “Einstürzende Reichsbauten” (Collapsing Reich Buildings) on the fusing of art, ideology, and interior design.
In the former state studio of the Nazi sculptor Arno Breker—now the Kunsthaus Dahlem—Henrike Naumann has staged the private-looking interior of a living space. In the center is the design of the reception area of Adolf Hitler’s residence in Obersalzberg. Part of the installation is original furniture from the former Haus der Deutschen Kunst, today Haus der Kunst in Munich, another architectural status symbol from the Nazi era. This furniture is supplemented by furnishings from the 1980s that the artist has collected.
This juxtaposition reveals how much the history of objects and political history are interwoven. It exposes the perfidious coexistence of an idealized local identity for one part of society and deportation and murder for the other. “With furniture [alone] we will not get any further,” says Henrike Naumann, “in our attempt to understand the ‘Third Reich’ by way of furniture. Or hate. The crucial thing is: For whom is this furniture intended and for whom not.”
HENRIKE NAUMANN, born in 1984 in Zwickau (GDR), lives and works in Berlin. She reflects sociopolitical problems on the level of design and domestic space, and explores antagonistic political beliefs through the ambivalent aesthetics of personal taste. In her immersive installations, she arranges furniture and home decor into scenographic spaces interspersed with video and sound work. Growing up in Eastern Germany, Naumann experienced extreme-right ideology as a predominant youth culture in the 1990s. Therefore, she is interested in the mechanisms of radicalization and how they are linked to personal experience. Although rooted in her experiences in Germany, Naumann’s work has addressed the global connectivity of youth cultures and their role in the process of cultural othering.
With the kind support of the Freundeskreis Kunsthaus Dahlem – Bernhard Heiliger. e.V.
The accompanying program of the exhibition is supported by