Friday, July 17, 2009

When a garden gnome isn't a gnome!

Germany opens 'Nazi' gnome case
A garden Gnome giving the Nazi salute has landed a German artist in trouble with authorities in Nuremberg.
The artist says his gnomes ridicule, rather than glorify, the Nazis

Prosecutors are investigating whether the gnome, which went on show in one of the city's galleries, breaks the strict law banning Nazi symbols and gestures.
The Bavarian city is particularly sensitive about the Nazi era because Adolf Hitler used it for big rallies and leading Nazis went on trial there.
The artist, Ottmar Hoerl, says his gnomes poke fun at the Nazis.
"I'm astonished that a single garden gnome, in what is for me an obscure gallery in Nuremberg, has unleashed such a public discussion because of an anonymous denunciation by someone," Mr Hoerl said.
The 59-year-old artist has been president of Nuremberg's Academy of Fine Arts since 2005.
"I didn't put it in the art gallery. Someone must have bought it and put it there. But I don't know what all the fuss is about.
With my gnomes I'm highlighting the danger of political opportunism and right-wing ideology. I get the feeling that this gnome has reopened an old wound," he said.
Last year hundreds of his "Nazi" gnomes went on show in the Belgian city of Gent, in an exhibition called "Dance with the Devil."
Mr Hoerl said that Belgians had well understood the political meaning "when one portrays the master race as a garden gnome."
"In 1942 I would have been murdered by the Nazis for this work," he said.
A spokesman for the Nuremberg public prosecutor's office, Wolfgang Traeg, said "we're checking to see if garden gnomes fall into the same clear category as posters that show the swastika crossed out."


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