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Published on Mar 20, 2011
Stih & Schnock : "Schleyer - Konsorten" (2001) First shown during the ctrl_space exhibition at the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe (2001); second display at Kunstwerke Berlin (KW, Institute for Contemporary Art) during the RAF exhibition in 2005.
(c) Renata Stih & Frieder Schnock, Berlin
In the 1970s, a kind of state of emergency reigned in the Federal Republic of Germany. Despite the different political parties participating on the emergency task forces that were set up, a consensus was soon reached: "We can expect the citizens to make sacrifices", because, given the prevailing impression that the state was under threat, the populace could be expected to accept restrictions to its basic rights and liberties. It was the time of dragnet surveillance and concerns about security inside the country. Universities and even the Academy of Art in Karlsruhe were suspected of being hotbeds of terrorist activity. Classes practicing drawing nudes in a park were monitored from a distance, approach roads checked and finally the studios then searched. Creativity was unpredictable and was automatically associated with the terrorist scene. Spatial proximity to the Federal Constitutional Court and the Bar of the Federal Supreme Court was a further indication of increased grounds for suspicion. After terrorist attacks students were arrested because they were riding motorbikes or because they looked like wanted persons. The most striking phenomenon of the era was the wanted posters, for all citizens of the Federal Republic were called upon to "compare" the black-and-white portraits on these poster with what they saw going on around them and to carefully study the people they encountered in their daily lives, as if to say "After all, you only have to look at their faces" to tell that they are public enemies. Mass hysteria was whipped up, with the result that once again neighbors started spying on each other, particularly if somebody's lifestyle did not fit the received patterns and beliefs. Such suspicions would culminate in the statement "They are members of the Schleyer gang."