V1 Gallery presents
Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye
A group exhibition with: Jake & Dinos Chapman, Stephen Dunne, Neal Fox, Susan Hiller, Dionisis Kavallieratos, Dennis Rudolph.
Curated by Francesca Gavin.
In 1945, the Nazis would broadcast German propaganda speeches on loudspeakers to the Allied enemies. Then a US soldier deactivating landmines, writer, director and actor Mel Brooks would respond by setting up speakers and singing Jewish musical theatre performer Al Jolson’s song ‘Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye’ on repeat to the Germans.
Mel Brooks has spent much of his career parodying Hitler and German national socialists. Yet his desire was not to lessen the horrors of war and genocide. As he stated in a 2006 interview with Der Spiegel, his aim was to bring Hitler and Nazis down with ridicule and laughter. “You can laugh at Hitler because you can cut him down to normal size… Of course it is impossible to take revenge for 6 million murdered Jews. But by using the medium of comedy, we can try to rob Hitler of his posthumous power and myths.”
Although much of the work in this exhibition is responding to the legacy of World War II and Nazis, the aim is to create an exhibition that highlights the increasing perils of the far right in contemporary Europe. The objective is to create a discussion that highlights the worrying current rise of parties who are exploiting a moment of economic crises for political aims – such as the Golden Dawn in Greece, Svoboda in the Ukraine, the Jobbik party in Hungary.
The point of the exhibition is not to soften or lessen the impact of the Nazis and the far right extremist rhetoric and violence. The intention in putting together this exhibition was to emphasise the importance of a continued awareness of the impact and horrors of the far right.
The lessons and experience of mid-20th century Europe are all too easily forgotten. By placing together work that veers from the satirical to the deeply disturbing, the aim is to create a real effect in the viewer. Hitting them with horror and the unacceptable at moments when humour has lowered their barriers.
Francesca Gavin is a curator and writer based in London. She is the author of 4 books including ‘100 New Artists’ and ‘New Gothic Art’, is the Visual Arts Editor of ‘Dazed & Confused’ magazine and the curator of the Soho House Collection. Francesca Gavin has curated shows internationally that include The Dark Cube at the Palais de Tokyo 2012, and The New Psychedelica at MU Eindhoeven 2011.