Following an invitation by Henrike Naumann, whose exhibition WESTALGIE is on view at IKOB from January 24 to April 16, 2023, the Brussels and Berlin-based artist and freelance production designer Merle Vorwald will show her project Dauergloss.

Dauergloss [permanent gloss] is constituted of a fragmented scenario and a digital narration titled GGG-HQ (Ging nicht, geht nicht, geht doch Headquarter), which translates to “Didn’t work, doesn’t work, works Headquarters.” The work engages with right-wing extremism in Germany since 1945 – as a continuity from the Third Reich, to the Federal Republic, to the right-wing realities of the present, and as a formative part of her family’s history. Pulling material from historical documents, auto-fictional texts, recalled fragments of her memory, visual textures, GIFs, and found tweets, GGG-HQ weaves a digitally tangible story – a novelty in commemorative culture. Surfaces and textures from the present and the past accompany the narration; moving visual worlds of a fragmented fascism are impactful elements of a universe full of hysterical post-pop cultural hues.

For Dauergloss, Merle Vorwald appropriates the biography of her grandfather, a Nazi unwilling to recant his right-wing extremist ideology after the end of the Third Reich. Her own upbringing in direct proximity is the starting point for this artistic research spanning three generations. GGG-HQ as a research endeavor is to me like a perfect visit at the nail salon: a little painful, chock-full of endless personalized color palettes, and resulting in a protective layer that makes for an everyday unsolicited representation of the self,” Vorwald says about her work. Painted nails not only navigate through the telling of a post-German reality, they are also a strident echo of research and its digital state, and mark the artist’s realization of the necessity to break the ties linking her to her family – gained through the supposedly dissociative act of manicure.

Dauergloss is a tripartite Script fragment, taking the visitor on an imaginary tour of three West German scenarios or atmospheres. The tour combines elements of reprocessing and remembering with visual cues. The writing aims to engage with the urgent process of self-translation and will be presented both in German and English through film, historical documents, texts, and images.

MERLE VORWALD (*1980, Germany) is an independent artist-researcher and production designer based in Brussels and Berlin. Her artistic practice finds its form across fictional writing, spatial installations and online platforms. Through poetic condensation, her practices aim for reduced precision and her visual contexts create absurd beauty realms of glossy, Camp materialities and their imperfections. Through these she explores historical fringe characters, the inherent political of autobiographical matters and investigates the potentials of fragility in collective work structures. As production designer she articulates an aesthetic position between art house movies, video art and commercial productions in the German film industry. She is interested in the tension and humor these opposite poles can create and uses them for her design work. Her work is always collaborative and often connected to Belgium. In 2022/ 23 she will participate in the postgraduate program apass [Advanced Performance and Scenography Studies] in Brussels.


Exhibition view, Merle Vorwald, DAUERGLOSS, © IKOB - Museum of Contemporary Art, Photo: Lola Pertsowsky