An essay on art, bodies and fascism.
In an era where identity politics is being weaponised against the very people it has sought to make visible, how can we reclaim complexity?
In 1937 the Nazis staged an exhibition of seized modernist artworks. Named Entartete ‘Kunst’ – Degenerate ‘Art’ – it sought to define degeneracy, display it and destroy it.This act of violent appropriation is one episode in a long and ongoing history of the erasure of queer and non-normative cultures.
A Nazi Word for a Nazi Thing works against this erasure; it is a manifesto – a catalogue for an exhibition that could never take place. Drawing on work from dissident sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld to South African artist Zanele Muholi, as well as a century of queer cinema from Sergei Eisenstein to Pedro Almodóvar, So Mayer creates an archive of resistance.
‘This book is a small revolution that becomes a party that you won’t be leaving soon. I believe we’re living in a time of fresh erasures, systemic violences working that global pandemic to take some other bodies out. Looking so freshly at the history of queerness, sexual deviance and the long long coordinated erasures of colonialism, bigotry and transphobia the essential non binary nature of art opens up right here like the wildly singing flower it is and So Mayer’s compelling version makes sense, makes me listen.’
-- Eileen Myles
‘A Nazi Word for a Nazi Thing is a reflective, creative walk through some of the worst – and best – people of the last hundred years, looking at the power of images and their relationship(s) with text. In a time of rising fascism, So Mayer highlights ways that artists have found strategies of resistance, and offers hope in historical analysis.’
-- Juliet Jacques