Poetry Is Out of Place
Jakob Ganslmeier

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Poetry Is Out of Place
Poetry Is Out of Place

Public Enlightenment‍ Common Enemy

Evil is often synonymous with ‘the devil,’ and in Hollywood movies is regularly embodied as a psychopathic, monstrous individual — a clear-cut villain. These widespread images play a crucial role in how our cultural imagination of evil is shaped. We have learned to dissociate on-screen ‘bad guys' from those in real life who are seldom as recognisable. How does this perpetuated representation of evil, depicted in Common Enemy, affect us?

Poetry Is Out of Place

THE DEVIL HATH POWER

IF THIS WERE A MOVIE,
I'D BE THE BAD GUY

Poetry Is Out of Place

Public Enlightenment‍ Strong is Beautiful I

Third Reich propaganda movies - ‘Nazi Hollywood’ - and found footage showing perpetrators in private and seemingly innocent settings form the base of Strong is Beautiful. In contrast to Common Enemy, the video focuses on the notion of how evil can reside in day-to-day life. Nazi propaganda is awash with positivity and cheerfulness, making it hard for us to distance ourselves from the dubious ideology underpinning it all. The glorification of how a muscular, healthy body leads to a strong mind (the supposed precondition for a ‘healthy nation’) feels uncannily similar to contemporary trends promoting rigorous physical routines.

Poetry Is Out of Place

HAMLET GOT A GUN NOW

Poetry Is Out of Place

In the Blue

Standing on a jetty in the Trondheimfjord, a Norwegian amateur choir perform an SS song. Had they not been asked to do so by the artist, Jakob Ganslmeier working in collaboration with the Falstad Centre, the friendly singers – who were aware of the song’s origin – would never have sung it. They were, however, of course free to decline repeating it.
We know that while SS Strafgefangenlager Falstad – as it was called at the time – was operational, villagers from Ekne helped prisoners by smuggling in food and medicine. What does it mean when the Ekne choir sings the SS song today? Their singing cannot be regarded as an ideological statement. Still, it poses the question: How long should it take for us to let go of our local past?

Poetry Is Out of Place

THE SNOW GOOSE NEED NOT
BATHE TO MAKE ITSELF WHITE

Poetry Is Out of Place

IF A FLOWER BLOOMED IN A
DARK ROOM, WOULD YOU TRUST IT?

Poetry Is Out of Place

Where Dreams Come Home

Are buildings with a violent past forever contaminated, or can they still serve as living-or work-spaces? Can we feel comfortable at places where many people have suffered?

Where Dreams Come Home looks at the former home of Falstad prison camp commanders, in Northern Norway. Is it the government's responsibility to own buildings that can be attributed to Nazi occupiers? These questions did not arise in the 1990s, when the state put the commander’s house on the free market. With a view of the former prison, a family lived there until 2011 when it was once again put up for sale. Anyone could have bought it.

Where Dreams Come Home is a fictional welcome by a seductive real estate agent advertising the house and its contemporary features. Can history be separated and erased from buildings like this?

Poetry Is Out of Place

COME TO ME AND EASE MY PAIN

Poetry Is Out of Place

Public Enlightenment‍ Strong is Beautiful II

Third Reich propaganda movies - ‘Nazi Hollywood’ - and found footage showing perpetrators in private and seemingly innocent settings form the base of Strong is Beautiful. In contrast to Common Enemy, the video focuses on the notion of how evil can reside in day-to-day life. Nazi propaganda is awash with positivity and cheerfulness, making it hard for us to distance ourselves from the dubious ideology underpinning it all. The glorification of how a muscular, healthy body leads to a strong mind (the supposed precondition for a ‘healthy nation’) feels uncannily similar to contemporary trends promoting rigorous physical routines.

Poetry Is Out of Place

NO FENCE TO SIT ON
BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL

Poetry Is Out of Place

Public Enlightenment‍ War Room I

A large part of today’s radicalisation happens online; through images, the use of symbolism, appropriation of memes, and music. The online world is a playground for testing the boundaries of personal expression – particularly for teenagers and young adults.

War Room shows how youth culture is hijacked by far-right extremists, how power and dictatorship, up to reenactments of WWII atrocities are presented here. Where does the strange fascination with Nazi memorabilia and conspiracy theories come from? The video includes footage from Russia's invasion of Ukraine and ends with a puzzling scene from a recent Quran burning in Norway. Showing this disturbing material is not meant to give a platform to the political ideas of its creators, but an attempt at critically reframing their intentions.

Poetry Is Out of Place

YOU’RE SO HEAVENLY MINDED
YOU’RE NO EARTHLY GOOD

Poetry Is Out of Place

Public Enlightenment‍ War Room II

A large part of today’s radicalisation happens online; through images, the use of symbolism, appropriation of memes, and music. The online world is a playground for testing the boundaries of personal expression – particularly for teenagers and young adults.

War Room shows how youth culture is hijacked by far-right extremists, how power and dictatorship, up to reenactments of WWII atrocities are presented here. Where does the strange fascination with Nazi memorabilia and conspiracy theories come from? The video includes footage from Russia's invasion of Ukraine and ends with a puzzling scene from a recent Quran burning in Norway. Showing this disturbing material is not meant to give a platform to the political ideas of its creators, but an attempt at critically reframing their intentions.

Poetry Is Out of Place
Poetry Is Out of Place

I FEEL AN ARMY IN MY FIST

NEVER GET HIGH ON YOUR OWN SUPPLY

Poetry Is Out of Place

Public Enlightenment‍ Strong is Beautiful III

Third Reich propaganda movies - ‘Nazi Hollywood’ - and found footage showing perpetrators in private and seemingly innocent settings form the base of Strong is Beautiful. In contrast to Common Enemy, the video focuses on the notion of how evil can reside in day-to-day life. Nazi propaganda is awash with positivity and cheerfulness, making it hard for us to distance ourselves from the dubious ideology underpinning it all. The glorification of how a muscular, healthy body leads to a strong mind (the supposed precondition for a ‘healthy nation’) feels uncannily similar to contemporary trends promoting rigorous physical routines.

Poetry Is Out of Place

ALL THE PAST STILL YET TO COME

Poetry Is Out of Place

Public Enlightenment‍ War Room III

A large part of today’s radicalisation happens online; through images, the use of symbolism, appropriation of memes, and music. The online world is a playground for testing the boundaries of personal expression – particularly for teenagers and young adults.

War Room shows how youth culture is hijacked by far-right extremists, how power and dictatorship, up to reenactments of WWII atrocities are presented here. Where does the strange fascination with Nazi memorabilia and conspiracy theories come from? The video includes footage from Russia's invasion of Ukraine and ends with a puzzling scene from a recent Quran burning in Norway. Showing this disturbing material is not meant to give a platform to the political ideas of its creators, but an attempt at critically reframing their intentions.

Poetry Is Out of Place

HANDS SO BLOODY, TASTES LIKE HONEY

Poetry Is Out of Place

A New Beginning

In A New Beginning Ganslmeier roams the area of the former prison camp, looking for traces of its dark history, but is unable to find any. Apart from the camp itself and the execution area connected with it, there are no signs anywhere about how it was used or the events that took place. The contrast with the recently-added, and impressive, glass facade forming the porch of the commander’s house couldn’t be starker.

The Falstad commander’s house is currently the only memorial site beyond the former prison camp area that provides any context to what happened here. Is it necessary to extend the Nazi commander’s house while leaving other parts of the camp’s infrastructure largely inaccessible to the public? How is the transparency of this feel-good entrance supposed to help us better understand the atrocities?

Poetry Is Out of Place
Poetry Is Out of Place

Interested in a free online tour? Get in touch at mail@jakobganslmeier.com. Also available for school classes and students.

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Poetry Is Out of Place
Credits
  • Project management Ana Zibelnik (Paradox), Ingeborg Hjorth (Falstad Centre)
  • Creative direction Bas Vroege
  • Produced by Paradox, in collaboration with The Falstad Centre
  • Concept Jakob Ganslmeier
  • Story editing Ana Zibelnik, Jakob Ganslmeier
  • Sound design Darius Timmer
  • Legal Partner Petit Legal
  • Web Design Daniël Sante, Marko Damiš
  • Web Development Marko Damiš
Public Enlightenment
  • Concept Jakob Ganslmeier, Ana Zibelnik
  • Research Jakob Ganslmeier
  • Editing Ana Zibelnik, Jakob Ganslmeier
Where Dreams Come Home
  • Concept / direction Jakob Ganslmeier
  • Acting Loes Luca
  • 3D rendering Tiago Rosado
  • Sound design Darius Timmer
In the Blue
  • Director Jakob Ganslmeier
  • Choir Ekne choir
  • Camera Jakob Ganslmeier
  • Editing Ana Zibelnik, Jakob Ganslmeier
A New Beginning
  • Director Jakob Ganslmeier
  • Camera Jakob Ganslmeier
  • Music Ernst Reijseger
  • Editing Ana Zibelnik, Jakob Ganslmeier
  • Text editing: Bas Vroege, Ana Zibelnik
Acknowledgement

Firstly, I would like to thank the producers, Bas Vroege and Ana Zibelnik. Ana became not only co-author of the Public Enlightenment series but contributed to all aspects of the project. There is not one piece that has not passed through her hands. Without your support and intellectual input, the entire body of work would not have been possible. The same goes for Bas who was ever ready to go the extra mile, allowing this work to grow through endless feedback sessions, late night editing, always with a positive energy and a sharp mind. Your trust in the works from the very beginning has left me with the feeling that the glass is always half full. We learned a new Dutch proverb with every phase of the project. It was a pleasure to cooperate.

Secondly, I would like to thank Simon Stranger for establishing the connection with the Ekne Choir and helping me out during the filming. Though our cooperation didn't work out, I am very grateful to have gone through this journey with you.

I appreciated the open-minded approach of the Falstad team — Ingeborg Hjorth, Ingvild Hagen Kjørholt, Pia and Christian Wee, among others. The process was bumpy and the subject undoubtedly difficult, but I truly admire your progressive approach and braveness in giving me the opportunity to work around the topic of perpetrator perspectives. You gave me a lot of artistic freedom, allowing me to bring this perspective into the here and now. Many thanks also to Anton Wagner for your help during my stay at Falstad.

I am immensely grateful to our website team Daniël Santé and Marco Damiš. Not only for your creative input, but your spontaneity, patience and always finding a way to make things work. Furthermore, I would like to thank Tiago Rosado for jumping in at the last minute and developing the amazing renders of 'Where Dreams Come Home,” and Jan Jenko for manually retouching 1427 frames of mistakes that could have been avoided if we had more sleep. I am grateful to Darius Timmer for sound design, Ernst Reijsegger for composing the beautiful piece for ‘A New Beginning’, and Loes Luca for playing ‘Ingrid’ — how you interpreted my script was simply “immaculate”.

Last, but not least; thank you to the Houses of Darkness advisory board for sharing your thoughts and concerns on the project in its early stages, especially to Sabina Tanović and Michael Branthwaite.

About the artist

Jakob Ganslmeier (b. 1990) is a photographer and visual artist based in Germany and the Netherlands. In his practice, he focuses on dismantling visual representation of radical ideologies and offering counter-narratives through a participatory artistic approach. His most notable work Haut, Stein (2017-2020) focuses on National Socialist symbology which remains visible to this day. It interrogates the persistence, use, and obliteration of these signs in two distinct formats: as the structural ornaments and architecture through which the symbols of National Socialism linger in public space; and as tattoos, by which the same signs serve to reaffirm an individual's commitment to right-wing extremism. The series has been shown at memorials as well as art institutions such as Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow — MOCAK, Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation, and the Brandenburgisches Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst. Ganslmeier’s long term commitment to researching extremism and perpetrator narratives has manifested itself in the works Bygone Nearby (2020), Thread (2021), and most recently Poetry Is out of Place (2022).