Umělec 2012/1 >> Don’t Tell Us Who We Are. Delaine Le Bas' Installation Witch Hunt Просмотр всех номеров
[b]Don’t Tell Us Who We Are. Delaine Le Bas' Installation [i]Witch Hunt[/i][/b]
Журнал Umělec
Год 2012, 1
6,50 EUR
Послать печатную версию номера:
Получить подписку

Don’t Tell Us Who We Are. Delaine Le Bas' Installation Witch Hunt

Umělec 2012/1

16.01.2013 15:13

Matthias Reichelt | profil | en cs de

Somewhere between the demonization and romantization of Romany culture, Delaine Le Bas seeks out a fragile reality that hides more than one cliché, stereotype and simplification. The diverse innocuousness of her vibrantly colorful installation is complemented by a reading of equally colorful news stories.

Delaine Le Bas has a fondness for colorful clothing, which finds expression in her equally colorful and expansive installation Witch Hunt as well. Working with an apparently endless range of diverse material, she has created an impelling work that welcomes the visitor. In early November 2011 in the middle of the chapel and in the apse of a former hospital (today’s Kunstquartier Bethanien), Le Bas realized what was then largest version ever of her work for the exhibition Reconsidering Roma – Aspects of Roma and Sinti Life in Contemporary Art.1 Since 2009, Le Bas has been presenting this installation throughout Europe as a work in progress.

In Berlin, Delaine Le Bas arranged the countless elements into a stage-like and walkable course. On the surface, the opulent colors, the mixture of puppets, children’s toys, kitsch, embroidery, paintings, text, wall newspaper, masks – all presented in the seemingly playful arrangement of a children’s room – evoke a picture of variegated harmlessness.

Delaine Le Bas takes the motif of the witch hunt as we know it from the early modern era – during which heretics and nonconformist women, including gypsy women, who were accused of witchcraft, blasphemy and of being possessed by the devil were burnt at the stake or hung by the gallows – and extends it into the present, creating an association with contemporary anti-Gypsy and racist persecution in Europe in general and in Great Britain in particular.

Located in the center of the nave is a tent spread out over a mostly red carpet showing two figures. This motif is a reference to the myth of the nomadic life that doggedly perseveres as an integral part of Romany culture – even when the great majority of Romany live a middle-class life with all imaginable career choices. What is more, this cliché ignores the fact that the reasons for their high mobility in the past lay in their de-integration and banishment from the majority society. Exclusion, violence, and pogroms forced the Romany to leave, to move on. Over the course of generations, some of the peoples generally labeled with the inadequate term “Romany” internalized this mobility, which thus became an integral part of their culture.

Lying inside the tent is a sleeping figure, while a child-sized figure is positioned like a sentinel. The tent walls are decorated with figurative paintings and textiles showing two children with ponytails playing catch.

The decoration and the ornamental wall hangings and carpets are elements of a gypsy culture that Le Bas explores in order to interweave it with other references. The Grim Reaper as messenger of death thus shares a space with Mickey Mouse, butterflies, and horses. A head of a puppet on a rocking horse is stuck in a guillotine. We are reminded of the gruesome fairytale world of the Brothers Grimm. Sweetness and light collide with a darkness reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe, playfulness collides with horror, Heaven with Hell. A dark Madonna holding a white child dominates the apse. In front of her, on the stairs leading down to the nave, we find a small child Madonna, at whose feet Le Bas has placed the 1960s book The Costs of Economic Growth. In it, economist E. J. Mishan criticizes a capitalist system based on constant growth, including its inherent consumerism that creates artificial needs and thus new problems.

In conversation, Le Bas mentions the many professions that gypsies turned to because of their traditional poverty, in particular the collection of metal and junk in order to find valuable resources that could be reused.

But Le Bas, who promotes comprehensive local political activism and supports an environmentally conscious approach to nature, also knows how quickly entire ethnicities can be stigmatized in times of crisis in order to become the targets of collective aggression. Society has always held a dual image of the Gypsy. On the one hand there is the romantic idealization of the traveler with music in his blood, eternally merry and enjoying his travels. One example of this image is the comedies of Emir Kusturica. On the other hand, Gypsies are demonized, made the image of evil.

When she is interviewed by journalists in Great Britain, it sometimes happens that her affiliation with the English Travelers (as Gypsies in England call themselves) is questioned because she has a university education. The stigma of Romany as uneducated – a consequence of their presumed mobility – is one prejudice that continues to persist. And this even though in recent years many academics from a diverse range of scientific disciplines have come forwards as Romany activists in order to correct this image. The other side of the coin, however, is that many hide their ethnic affiliation out of fear that they may otherwise face career discrimination. The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma could say a thing or two on that subject as well.

By incorporating news reports describing racism and discrimination into her installation, Le Bas documents the policy of exclusion that many European cities continue to practice towards Europe’s largest minority, an estimated 12 million Romany. Classify, define as “other,” exclude: This is the strategy taken by the majority society that continues to apply today – and which, guided by German fascism, led to the murder of half a million Romany in Europe.

 Hanging over the apse are the EU flag and the words “Safe European Home” – the title of a song by British punk band The Clash. Delaine Le Bas has placed a question mark after the words. From the viewpoint of the Romany and immigrants from non-European countries, this question can only be answered in the negative, as Le Bas demonstrated in a performance during the exhibition opening.2 In it, twelve gallery visitors read recent press reports on the brutal police clearance of Dale Farm, a settlement of 86 Traveller families in Sussex.


Translated from German by Stephan von Pohl.


1 Concept: Lith Bahlmann; organized together with the author of this text, 12 Nov. – 11 Dec. 2011, Kunstquartier Kreuzberg. An eponymous book was published in German and English by Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen. See: At the same time, Le Bas’ work could also be seen at a group exhibition at Berlin’s Galerie Kai Dikhas (“Place to See”), a gallery dedicated exclusively to art by Roma and Sinti.

2 At the opening of Reconsidering Roma on 11 Nov. 2011 at the Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin.


Статья не была прокомментирована

Добавить новый комментарий

Рекомендуемые статьи

The Top 10 Czech Artists from the 1990s The Top 10 Czech Artists from the 1990s
The editors of Umělec have decided to come up with a list of ten artists who, in our opinion, were of crucial importance for the Czech art scene in the 1990s. After long debate and the setting of criteria, we arrived at a list of names we consider significant for the local context, for the presentation of Czech art outside the country and especially for the future of art. Our criteria did not…
Le Dernier Cri and the black penis of Marseille Le Dernier Cri and the black penis of Marseille
We’re constantly hearing that someone would like to do some joint project, organize something together, some event, but… damn, how to put it... we really like what you’re doing but it might piss someone off back home. Sure, it’s true that every now and then someone gets kicked out of this institution or that institute for organizing something with Divus, but weren’t they actually terribly self…
Nick Land – An Experiment in Inhumanism Nick Land – An Experiment in Inhumanism
Nick Land was a British philosopher but is no longer, though he is not dead. The almost neurotic fervor with which he scratched at the scars of reality has seduced more than a few promising academics onto the path of art that offends in its originality. The texts that he has left behind are reliably revolting and boring, and impel us to castrate their categorization as “mere” literature.
My Career in Poetry or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Institution My Career in Poetry or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Institution
An American poet was invited to the White House in order to read his controversial plagiarized poetry. All tricked out and ready to do it his way, he comes to the “scandalous” realization that nothing bothers anyone anymore, and instead of banging your head against the wall it is better to build you own walls or at least little fences.
04.02.2020 10:17
Следующий шаг?
out - archeology
S.d.Ch, Solitaires and Periphery Culture (a generation born around 1970)
S.d.Ch, Solitaires and Periphery Culture (a generation born around 1970)
Josef Jindrák
Who is S.d.Ch? A person of many interests, active in various fields—literature, theater—known for his comics and collages in the art field. A poet and playwright foremost. A loner by nature and determination, his work doesn’t meet the current trends. He always puts forth personal enunciation, although its inner structure can get very complicated. It’s pleasant that he is a normal person and a…
Читать дальше...
out - poetry
THC Review and the Condemned Past
THC Review and the Condemned Past
Ivan Mečl
We are the fifth global party! Pítr Dragota and Viki Shock, Fragmenty geniality / Fragments of Charisma, May and June 1997. When Viki came to visit, it was only to show me some drawings and collages. It was only as an afterthought that he showed me the Czech samizdat publication from the late 1990s, THC Review. When he saw how it fascinated me, he panicked and insisted that THAT creation is…
Читать дальше...
To hen kai pán (Jindřich Chalupecký Prize Laureate 1998 Jiří Černický)
To hen kai pán (Jindřich Chalupecký Prize Laureate 1998 Jiří Černický)
Читать дальше...
birthing pains
Who’s Afraid of Motherhood?
Who’s Afraid of Motherhood?
Zuzana Štefková
Expanding the definition of “mother” is also a space for reducing pressure and for potential liberation.1 Carol Stabile The year was 2003, and in the deep forests of Lapák in the Kladno area, a woman in the later phase of pregnancy stopped along the path. As part of the “Artists in the Woods” exhibit, passers-by could catch a glimpse of her round belly, which she exposed especially for them in…
Читать дальше...
Knihy, multimédia a umělecká díla, která by vás mohla zajímat Войти в e-shop
Back to Roots Issue
Больше информации...
6,50 EUR
American Issue
Больше информации...
6,50 EUR
Again and again, art is being redefined. Artists, philosophers, critics – everyone has their own definition. Instead of...
Больше информации...


Divus and its services

Studio Divus designs and develops your ideas for projects, presentations or entire PR packages using all sorts of visual means and media. We offer our clients complete solutions as well as all the individual steps along the way. In our work we bring together the most up-to-date and classic technologies, enabling us to produce a wide range of products. But we do more than just prints and digital projects, ad materials, posters, catalogues, books, the production of screen and space presentations in interiors or exteriors, digital work and image publication on the internet; we also produce digital films—including the editing, sound and 3-D effects—and we use this technology for web pages and for company presentations. We specialize in ...

Цитата дня Издатель не несет ответственности за какие-либо психические и физические состояния и расстройства, которые могут возникнуть по прочтении цитаты.

Enlightenment is always late.



Arch 8, Resolution Way, Deptford

London SE8 4NT, United Kingdom
Open on appointment


7 West Street, Hastings
East Sussex, TN34 3AN
, United Kingdom
Open on appointment

Ivan Mečl, +44 (0) 7526 902 082

Kyjov 37, 407 47 Krásná Lípa
Czech Republic
+420 222 264 830, +420 602 269 888

Open daily 10am to 6pm
and on appointment.


Potsdamer Str. 161, 10783 Berlin
Germany, +49 (0) 1512 9088 150
Open on appointment.



Divus New book by I.M.Jirous in English at our online bookshop.