NUMBERS AND MISMEASUREMENT

NUMBERS AND MISMEASUREMENT

YEAR: 2009
EXHIBITION VIEW: Künstlerhaus Wien, Vienna, AUSTRIA
DATE: 4.9.-11.10.2009
PHOTOCREDITS: ©Ruth Mateus-Berr

DESCRIPTION

2009 was the “Darwin Year”. In Austria one only art exhibition (Künstlerhaus, Vienna) took place related to this topic. In her work of art MISMEASUREMENT, which was part of the show at Künstlerhaus, Ruth Mateus-Berr refers to Socialdarwinism, which was used as pseudoscientific justification for imperialism and rassism at the time of the Nationalsocialism, and which today represents an essential feature of right-wing radicalism. Socialdarwinism is a tendency within sociological theory, which transfers principals of biological evolution theory from Charles Darwin to societal relationships. Darwinism does not implement a certain political theory. But eugenicists and racists at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century referred to the Theory of Evolution to kind of “proof” their demands scientifically. In Germany and Austria this attitude led against the right to life for people with psychological illnesses or genetic diseases, to avoid “genetic degeneration”. This position extended to mass murder, Euthanasia, not only of people described above, but also races, which were considered as inferior to justify genocide. At the same time the Nazis undertook the foundation of “Lebensborn”, a “breeding institution” for the Aryan Elite. Historians, biologists and medical doctors developed theories about skull shape, color of hair and eyes and differed in “good” and “bad” human beings, “worth living”, or “worth of extinction”. Hair samples, fingerprints, measurement inaccuracy, biological genetic measures, plaster masks and photographs assisted pseudoscientific argument and supported until now not reflected history of prejudices against strangers.
The title MISMEASUREMENT therefore has a dual meaning: First it alludes to pseudoscientific technology of racist scientists at the Nationalsocialism, who “measured” people according to their scale on “high grade” or “inferior” race, on the other hand the title means to be wrong or outrageous.

More information

These photographs represent a former Austrian National Soccerteam player Thierry Mudimula, Michael Brennan and Iuna Mateus, provoking the audience by using measurement tools, similar to those, the Nazis used.

Click the link below to see the artist's performance on this topic, learn more about Thierry Mudimula and read a recent newspaper article about Michael Brannan:

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© 2020 Ruth Mateus-Berr