Henrike Naumann

Tag X (Day X, 2019)

In her complex installations often based on ready-made furniture and objects, Henrike Naumann reflects upon the political meaning of German unification, the disappearance of the GDR, and the impact of these events on German and global history, which might seem catastrophic at times.

In the center of her installation, a video shows what seems to be historical footage of Alexanderplatz in what used to be East Berlin. An anonymous witness recalls a period of political upheaval. But in the course of the video, the events become blurred, making it unclear whether the film is telling the story of the end of socialism in 1989, or that of a right-wing insurrection in 2019.

The title of Naumann’s film and installation refer to the right-wing networks in Germany uncovered in 2017. They were prosecuted for hoarding weapons in preparation for Day X, the takeover of power and the purge of society of undesirables—something hardly resembling the democratic and popular revolt against late socialism.

Yet one is linked to the other, as Naumann shows in her installation. It imagines the decor of an optician’s from the nineties that suddenly looks sinister. Postmodern shop fittings become weapons for self-defense, and symbols of bourgeois prosperity turn into right-wing combat equipment, perhaps revealing the disappointment with the promises of capitalism and democracy that seemed so close to so many only thirty years ago.

Henrike Naumann (1984, Zwickau, GDR) is an artist creating immersive installations, combining video and sound with scenographic space. Her work often reflects on the history of the right-wing terrorism in Germany as well as on today’s broad acceptance of racist ideas in the aftermath of the collapse of the GDR. In recent years, Naumann widened her focus to the global connectivity of youth cultures and the reversion of cultural othering. Notable exhibitions include solo shows at Sculpturecenter, New York (2022); Kunsthaus Dahlem, Berlin (2021); Belvedere 21, Vienna (2021); Kunstverein Hannover (2019); Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach; and Galerie Wedding, Berlin; as well as participations at the Busan Biennale (2018), Riga Biennial (2018), steirischer herbst ’18, 4th Ghetto Biennale, Port-au-Prince (2015), and the 3rd Herbstsalon at Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin (2017). She lives in Berlin.

Mixed-media installation