Marc Brandenburg Camouflage Pullover
Inspired by the original Benetton ad, in the early 90s Marc Brandenburg first conceived of hoodies with attached knitted masks that with regards to skin colour and facial features belonged to either of four racial groups: Caucasian, Arab, Black or Asian. With these Camouflage Pullovers, Brandenburg exposed how identity and its concealment may still constitute key determinants in an individual's life and his or her experience as a member of society.
Employing a product of fashion in an artistic context, Brandenburg thereby commented on the political topics of the day, especially the racism debate, the controversy over the ban on face coverings in Germany, and images from fashion commercials.
Brandenburg's new show powerfully demonstrates how highly related issues until today determine both the lives of individuals and the public debate: with the rise of nationalist forces all over the West, a US president who appeals to ideals of white supremacy and a frequently racially tainted migration debate, the role of identity seems as determinant for individuals as it was when Brandenburg first conceived of the Camouflage Pullovers more than a quarter of a century ago.
This time Marc Brandenburg decided not to show the pullovers in the museum. They may be viewed in mediated form, however, as protagonists in videos where they are worn by people in real life – in a tram, in late-night shopping, in a park. The videos illustrate once again just what an alarming and nightmarish effect a mask can have, if it is at once conspicuous and intended to conceal something from public view. Inversion and playful concealment link the Camouflage Pullovers to Brandenburg's elaborate pencil drawings in which he inverts the colours, white becoming black and vice versa.