Annetta and Erasmus Schröter —Escape From Colditz
21 January 2011 - 5 March 2011
Artists Annette and Erasmus Schröter are based in Leipzig, South Eastern Germany close to the former prison camp at Colditz Castle. For its second exhibition Departure Lounge is delighted to welcome them to the UK to mount one of their bewitching shared exhibitions, Escape from Colditz.
Both artists were born in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), and attended Leipzig’s internationally acclaimed Academy of Fine Arts – the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst(or HGB). Political differences with East Germany’s Stalinist regime saw the Schröters entering voluntary exile in the West in 1985 only returning to Leipzig in 1997 following the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe.
An ambitious series of staged analogue photographs forms the core of the exhibition in which the artists – dressed as giant rabbits – bring a bizarre and slightly twisted flavour to the folk-tales, personal memories and urban myths that they grew up with.
As well as being one of Germany’s highest regarded painters and professor of painting and graphics at the HGB since 2006, Annette Schröter also produces giant paper-cuts. These works radically modernise this traditional German craft skill by adjusting scale and including motifs like graffiti covered derelict buildings and war damage. A tapestry of objects and artworks from their past including socialist children’s toys, GDR postcards (their ‘holiday’ motifs served up with a with a particular ideological flavour) and home-made household decorations gives the exhibition a domestic feel, which points to the artists’ interest in the use of ornamentation pattern and colour as tools of ideological control.
Both artists’ work is marked by an intensive analysis of Germany’s post-war and communist history and their own place within it. Their work – which evidences their very traditional training and an enduring fascination for a western consumer culture that they first encountered in their late 20s – is unique in international contemporary art. The exhibition’s title Escape from Colditz is a reference to their own escape from the social and cultural paralysis of the GDR in the mid- 1980s, and their continuing efforts to digest this legacy in their artwork.
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