Concentrationary

The term 'concentrationary' derives from the French concentrationnaire, used by poets and thinkers in the immediate post war years to describe the 'concentrationary universe'. This is society defined by a matrix of concentration camps - places where the law is suspended and within which 'anything can happen'. The word concentrationary has been given a new currency in recent scholarship where it is recognised that the conditions of the concentrationary universe did not disappear in 1945 or with the death of Stalin but inhabit the structures of everyday life in modern society. The concentrationary haunts our bureaucracies, the workplace, airports, agriculture, political policy and is most evident in the actual concentration camps that are  immigration detention centres. There is a problem of forgetting, obviously, but there is a perhaps greater problem of not realising that the concentrationary has never gone away.

Mein Kampf

                                                                                                                                                           120x40cm

 Adolph Hitler's evil text creates a visceral impact in paint. Red dominates, mainly because of his ranting obsession with Communism. The visceral surface of the painting could be reminscent of the plastination techniques of Gunter Van Hagen's  Bodyworlds  exhibitions. This painting has been exhibited against or alongside Primo Levi's  If This is a Man  (see below), as a comment on the concentrationary imaginary. It is meant to show that colours are not simply colours but that they can have a devastating meaning. Hitler endlessly reiterates the symbolism and meaning of colours within the text of  Mein Kampf , hence a kind of recurring echo of the German flag. The electric blue colour that runs through from the beginning and somewhat enlivens the painting is a quirk of translation - from the phrase 'out of the blue'. The original German does not contain a reference to blue, so this becomes further abstracted through the double translation from German to English and then once more to paint.

Adolph Hitler's evil text creates a visceral impact in paint. Red dominates, mainly because of his ranting obsession with Communism. The visceral surface of the painting could be reminscent of the plastination techniques of Gunter Van Hagen's Bodyworlds exhibitions. This painting has been exhibited against or alongside Primo Levi's If This is a Man (see below), as a comment on the concentrationary imaginary. It is meant to show that colours are not simply colours but that they can have a devastating meaning. Hitler endlessly reiterates the symbolism and meaning of colours within the text of Mein Kampf, hence a kind of recurring echo of the German flag. The electric blue colour that runs through from the beginning and somewhat enlivens the painting is a quirk of translation - from the phrase 'out of the blue'. The original German does not contain a reference to blue, so this becomes further abstracted through the double translation from German to English and then once more to paint.

  Mein Kampf , detail

Mein Kampf, detail

  Mein Kampf , detail

Mein Kampf, detail

If This is a Man

                                                                                                                                                       180x180cm

 This painting is something of a commentary on the importance of the witness. The colours that emerge from Primo Levi's account of his concentrationary existence (barely life) at Auschwitz, are the only readable factor in a grey abstracted field. The colours are highly symbolic and meaningful. The preponderance of gold, for example is referential to the gold extracted from Jewish teeth in the concentration camps. The exterior grey border is also a nod to the debates about the representability or otherwise of the Holocaust, without being a symbol of it.

This painting is something of a commentary on the importance of the witness. The colours that emerge from Primo Levi's account of his concentrationary existence (barely life) at Auschwitz, are the only readable factor in a grey abstracted field. The colours are highly symbolic and meaningful. The preponderance of gold, for example is referential to the gold extracted from Jewish teeth in the concentration camps. The exterior grey border is also a nod to the debates about the representability or otherwise of the Holocaust, without being a symbol of it.