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Artist Martin Zet, Photo: Sandra Teigte

Deutschland schafft es ab (Germany gets rid of it)

By Martin Zet

The campaign Deutschland schafft es ab (Germany gets rid of it) was launched by artist Martin Zet in January 2012. The idea of a call for donations of copies of Thilo Sarrazin’s book Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany Does Away with Itself)—the racist content of which you might disagree with—and its use in an art project gave rise to heated discussion, harsh critique from the media, polarization of public opinion, and an explosion of hate speech. The media immediately pursued fantasies about book burning, even if Zet himself never talked about it. A handful of people associated with right-wing initiatives even organized a demonstration on Bebelplatz in Berlin—where the Nazis burned over 20,000 books in 1933—to protest against the project. But what really burned were people’s imaginations, fed by the media, which mostly rejected the artist’s proposition for what one can do in the face of the popularity of such a book. As a result some art institutions, which had previously agreed to join the project as collection points for book donations, withdrew while some others from outside the art scene (such as the owner of a travel agency in Berlin-Marzahn) joined. We think that the mere fact that Zet, as a Czech artist and an »outsider,« touched on topics of social segregation, exclusion, and discrimination in Germany is probably one of the reasons why he was attacked.

 

The initial aim of the project was to make an art installation out of the collected books in order to confront people with its dangerous contents. The 7th Berlin Biennale hasn’t received many copies, but rather a significant number of hate e-mails and accusations. The project opened up a broad public discussion and brought forward the necessity to act against xenophobic claims, to oppose the European trend of growing conservatism, and even in the long run to try to cut down any ambitions Sarrazin might have to establish a new, right-wing party in Germany. Just a few days before Zet’s campaign was announced, the publishing house that originally commissioned Sarrazin’s book (now in its twenty-eighth edition) released a paperback version of it. Sarrazin is a Social Democrat who is feeding a wave of right-wing, extremist tendencies going through Europe at the moment. It might change the continent if we do not say: "Get rid of it."

by Artur Żmijewski and Joanna Warsza

 

Martin Zet is an artist who collects, produces, and uses books in his practice. He lives in Prague.

 

"Germany gets rid of it" – first call

With over 1.3 million copies sold “Deutschland schafft sich ab” by Thilo Sarrazin is the most successful political non-fiction publication of a German author of the post-war period. The Czech artist Martin Zet now starts the campaign [...]More >

7-berlin-biennale-sarazzin

Comments

Daniel Miller in conversation with Martin Zet

Martin, was it ever your plan to burn these books? More >
Daniel Miller in conversation with Martin Zet

Statement by Axel Wieder, Pro qm

The first time I heard about Martin Zet’s project was when a staff member of the Berlin Biennale asked me whether I thought this idea could be realized. More >
Statement by Axel Wieder, Pro qm

Who abolishes it? – The freedom of thought?

On the debate around the campaign “Germany abolishes it“ by Martin Zet as part of the 7th Berlin Biennale 2012. Statement by Katharina Kaiser More >
Who abolishes it? – The freedom of thought?

Flames in their Heads

by Igor Stokfiszewski More >
Flames in their Heads

Statement by Stéphane Bauer, Director, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien

Or why Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien will continue to be a collecting point for the campaign “Deutschland schafft es ab” (Germany gets rid of it), a project by Martin Zet in... More >
Statement by Stéphane Bauer, Director, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien

Statement by Artur Żmijewski

The campaign by Czech artist Martin Zet to collect as many copies of Thilo Sarrazin’s book »Deutschland schafft sich ab« (Germany Does Away With Itself) as possible has begun. More >
Statement by Artur Żmijewski

Comment by Chantal Mouffe

I think Martin Zet’s project is a legitimate initiative. He is curious to know what is the opinion of those who bought the book. More >
Comment by Chantal Mouffe
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