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Arts

Lady Gaga, Merkel and heretics meet in monumental artwork

The sculptor Georg Korner aka Matthias Körner has a liking for monumental projects. After spending 12 years recreating the façade of the Berlin City Palace, his new artwork, "Transit," is made up of 2,600 figures.

The sculptor Georg Korner, whose real name is Matthias Körner, spent many years working on the reconstruction of the baroque façade of the Berlin City Palace. Since 2013, he's also been preparing hundreds of figures that align into a monumental artwork called "Transit." The work deals with transitions in life.

DW: What inspired you to work on the concept of "transit"?

Georg Korner: Transit has been a subtext of my entire life. Three and a half years ago, I wanted to create a tableau of people rushing with their luggage. It only covered one square meter at first, but it just kept developing ever since. I was looking for the right format, and I finally found it with this large installation.

Which themes does the work deal with?

There's the transition between life and death, for example. The "Catrinas" [Eds. female figures of death] from the Mexican "Día de los muertos," the day of the dead, which symbolically show up at the table of the living. They eat and dance together and then they disappear again.

The installation also includes the heretics of the Spanish Inquisition, undergoing auto-da-fé, the public penance imposed by its judges; soldiers blinded by lethal gas during World War I; and the Devil in Dante's "Divine Comedy" from the early Renaissance. There's Lady Gaga and Batman, too. They are the transitory heroes of our times. They're also constantly reinventing themselves; they're on the move.      

You started on this piece before the refugee crisis reached its peak in Germany. Do you still see it as a comment on the current situation in the world?

I rather dealt with the issue more generally - from the Exodus of the Jews out of Egypt to the expulsion of Armenians, from the migration of early populations to the flight of German Jews, Communists and intellectuals over France to America. We have continuously been confronted with this issue over thousands of years - and it has always moved me. And then came the moment for me to create this work. Two years ago, there were the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and now suicide bombers are also included in the installation. 

The work is obviously currently relevant and politically charged. When I think about the narcissist populist Trump, who ordered his travel ban on Muslims on Holocaust Remembrance Day of all days, then I view my installation with completely new energy.

The work was therefore transformed by current events?

Exactly, it develops along the way. It also offers a tree of possibilities. I am working on a derived, smaller project about Leni Riefenstahl and Arno Breker [Eds. She was a filmmaker and he was a sculptor best known for their Nazi propaganda works]. They were also people in transition, who on one hand wanted to make art, but on the other made art on command.

Where will "Transit" be shown?

I have recently said that it works pretty well here in my studio. It'll come out of here one day, but we don't know where it will land yet.

 

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