Gestures of Good

Paul Mielke

Keywords: Commemoration, Flowers, National identity

The project focuses on the wreath as an object at the centre of nationalised acts of commemoration: Performances which are constitutive for Germany's identity, as signifiers of a recurring thematisation of and ‘coming to terms’ with the past. It questions whether this ‘culture of remembering’ is subconsciously reinterpreted as an achievement rather than a duty by German society.

A video work composed of a series of historical photographs shows the repetitive nature of these wreath-laying ceremonies to suggest a possible growing indifference towards the individual occasions.

The corresponding publication compiles personal memories of affective news imagery and presents details from archival books and magazines to juxtapose hues of German heritage. Herein, National Socialism is considered as an omnipresent setting rather than a closed chapter, still graspable in everyday life, economy, or family history. This collection interrogates the notion of West Germany as ‘liberated’, as well as the unification of West and East as an alleged redemption moment: A ‘finally right’, another ‘becoming good’.

Photo Ⓒ Roel Backaert