Contemporary Artists against Fascism

  1. Sitzung, 23 5 2017

In her passionate essay from 1975, „Fascinating Fascism“, Susan Sontag forcefully attacked the rehabilitation of Leni Riefenstahl, author of famous Nazi-era documentaries, as a promotion of what she called „fascist aesthetics“. She wrote: „Fascist aesthetics [...] also flow from (and justify) a preoccupation with situations of control, submissive behavior, and extravagant effort; they exalt two seemingly opposite states, egomania and servitude. The relations of domination and enslavement take the form of a characteristic pageantry: the massing of groups of people; the turning of people into things; the multiplication of things and grouping of people and things around an all-powerful, hypnotic leader figure or force. The fascist dramaturgy centers on the orgiastic transactions between mighty forces and their puppets. Its choreography alternates between ceaseless motion and a congealed, static, “virile” posing. Fascist art glorifies surrender; it exalts mindlessness: it glamorizes death.“ 

Since several years we can witness artists working with those traits and subverting them in different ways. One of them is the band Laibach, performing so called "“over-identification”, which means “adopting a set of ideas, images, or politics and attacking them, not by a direct, open or straightforward critique, but rather through a rabid and obscenely exaggerated adoption of them” (S. Shukaitis).

The third meeting of Academy’s reading group is dedicated to this phenomenon as well as other ways of confronting fascism in contemporary art.


Stevphen Shukaitis: Overidentification and/or bust?, in: Variant 37 (2010), S. 26-29.

Susan Sontag: Fascinating Fascism, in: The New York Review of Books, 6. Februar 1975.

Inke Arns: Terror als Therapie: Laibach und die slowenische Punk-Bewegung, in: Birgit Richard/Heinz-Hermann Krüger (Publishers) intercool 3.0. Jugendliche Bild- und Medienwelten. Ein Kompendium zur aktuellen Jugendkulturforschung, Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink Verlag 2010, S. 404-414.

BAVO (eds.): Cultural Activism Today. The Art of Over-Identification. Rotterdam: Episode Publishers 2007.

Marc James Leger: Brave New Avant Garde, Winchester/Washington: Zero Books 2012, Chapter 6 (The Subject Supposed to Over-Identify: BAVO and the Fundamental Fantasy of a Cultural Avant Garde) pp. 133-163.

Slavoy Zizek: Slavoj Zizek, The Universal Exception, London/New York: Continuum 2006, Chapter 4 (Why are Laibach and the Neue Slowenische Kunst not Fascists?), pp. 63-66.