Curated by Malina Lauterbach and Dierk Höhne
13 June - 5 July, 2020
Motor Ship Heimatland
close to Fisherinsel 3
10 179 Berlin
The exhibition Goodbye Deutschland on the former coal freighter "Heimatland" at the Fischerinsel in Berlin is named after the installation that Meier produced especially for it. It consists of 100 melted beer mugs arranged in the belly of the ship. Already with the exhibition title, Meier reflects on the meaning of the place and relates it to his work. Even though this initially expresses the desire for departure and farewell, it contrasts with the historical name of the ship. At the same time, Goodbye Deutschland refers to the same-named docu-soap broadcasted on German entertainment television. The show accompanies families in their emigration, who during the farewell in Germany, as well as their journey and arrival in the destination country, tell about their motives for the new beginning, their dreams and feelings of home. Often personal dramas and existential fears play a role. Over the course of the various seasons, however, the viewers gain an intimate insight into the emotional and biographical background. In some cases, the attempt to emigrate also proves to be an economic, cultural and bureaucratic failure, which comes to a premature end at the protagonists' place of origin. The programme sheds light on the social milieu and the individual search for the life the drop-outs dreamed of. It thus deals with 'typically German' sensitivities, carrying them further and embedding them in a tension arch suitable for a series production.
The struggles that accompany the departure into new territory are also reflected in the objects on display. The beer mugs, gathered together in a group, have collapsed. When Meier exposes them to a temperature of around 700 degrees Celsius during the melting process, they lose their original condition and literally go limp. In this state, the mugs themselves look like drunken passengers who have lost their orientation. The ambivalent references meet in the cult object of the made-to-measure jug, which Meier uses as the basic material for his installation. On the one hand, the drinking vessel is symbolic of the cliché of a sociable German 'beer nation', but on the other hand it also refers to the real dark sides associated with alcohol consumption and social precarity. This metaphorical aftertaste runs through the works and at the same time establishes references to a social dimension.
In the site-specific work Für Rosa, Meier takes a similar approach. If one looks over the railing of the "Heimatland", one can see an orange glowing textile floating in the current of the Spree. The bomber jacket attached to the boat, originally an item of clothing from the military cloakroom, has long been part of the civilian fashion vocabulary. It has not lost its defensive connotation - it can be found on the catwalks of the big fashion houses, within the left- wing scenes, as well as within nationalist and fascist groups. Through this ambiguity, Meier reflects on how contrary levels of meaning can be layered over time and contained in an object.
With Goodbye Deutschland, Meier addresses the ambivalent moment of change within German society, which is accompanied by human disruption and social inequality. The humorous tragedy that runs through his work highlights the proximity between hope and failure. Ultimately, it is the question of perspective that comes to the fore, keeping in mind the various social realities that are often contradictory in nature.
Text © Malina Lauterbach & Dierk Höhne