Künstlers Traum - Goethe in Buchenwald

Artist’s Dream - Goethe in Buchenwald

CR 131. Year 1999

Künstlers Traum - Goethe in Buchenwald Jochen Gerz 1999 CR 131

What has come to be known as the “Light of Weimar” has given rise to many a rumour. Nobody in Weimar knows anything for sure. Some say it has been in Weimar since the very beginning, and the political situation, whether regional or national, (has nothing) to do with it. “

For some, art is only about imagination and self-expression; for Jochen Gerz, it is also about our relationship to the social order. Art helps to maintain a space to speak about society, about world events, about our certainties and our uncertainties.

Judith Mastai 1993

Gerz has positioned his messages in various places - ranging from the station via the Gauforum to the palace, from Hotel Elephant to Geothe's private house and the side wall of the Schiller House. Each of these messages confronts the viewer with a large picture and a longer text, transporting viewer out of the turmoil of everyday life and experience, captivating, silencing and freezing him or her in front of the posters for a brief moment. …

Ulrich Krempel 1999

... it would be difficult to find anyone capable of retelling the story without losing the thread. It’s about several layers of rumors, which tie in with one another. … Just like in an endless mirror where a chasm opens up from rumour to rumour to rumour, the reader wonders – the texts, besides all confusion, are presented on strangely beautiful and at the same time terrifying panels showing a romantic night sky with a full moon with the green beam of light slicing through the picture – who has written these texts, whether the texts are not part of the rumour….

Doris von Drathen 1999

With its apparently harmless tale by what one might wish to call a town chronicler, who wishes to bring together what the Germans educated establishment has always traditionally kept apart – because the cliché: “Germany is not only the land of concentration camps, but also the land of Schiller and Goethe” was their only saving grace – Jochen Gerz is touching on the huge question of guilt. Because this too may also lead to complacency: “The act of self-reproach can also lead to reality being interpreted one-sidedly”, says Gerz in an interview and continues, “Reality is then interpreted in the same way by the victims and culprits. The self-accuser is a miraculous resurrection; the culprit, one could say, is resurrected as a victim. Then there are only good people left. And at that moment, in its reality as reality. Reality suddenly ceases to have parents and children. Everyone is then on the good side, and what constituted reality and why this behavior was possible at all, namely that reality is untameable, that it is unpredictable, that it can be horrific, this reality is then concealed in this automated self-reproach, which is reduced to a gesture."

Doris von Drathen 1999

The artist uses his artistic license to create a place of experienced freedom. This has consequences: the role of the artist as director and the role of the audience as actor no longer quite work. … It is not the artwork that counts but the way.

Paolo Bianchi 1999


Work in public space

(in cooperation with students of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, the daily newspaper Thüringer Allgemeine and the Thüringischen Landeszeitung)

Billboards, each 260 x 360 cm

In Weimar seven billboards tell the story of a rumor about the green light that joins Belvedere Palace and the tower of Buchenwald, the place of the German Classical era and the death-camps of the National Socialists. One after the other, the billboards are posted six weeks at ten places in downtown Weimar. On the billboards real people wellknown in the city, express their views, engaging in debate about the city's past and present. On December 22, on the eve of the equinox, “the green light appears”.


Weimar, 1. Mai - 31. December 1999


I: Weimar 1999. Bolzano 1999, p. 136

II: Fromm 1999. Galloway 1999. Müller 1999. Pias 1999. Sommer 1999.

Access general bibliography

My name is Jochen Gerz