Students at the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences in Berlin-Hellersdorf were critical of a poem that had been put up on the façade of the building by the university management. Seeking a say in matters, they followed the democratic route, taking their demands through all the committees of the university’s system of self-governance—and thus effected change. This caused such indignation among a majority from the realms of politics and society, primarily identified in terms of their positions of power, that there were calls for authoritarian intervention, with the students accused of only speaking for a minority. In his artist’s book A Public Text, Arne Schmitt works through the debate on Eugen Gomringer’s poem ”avenidas.“ The technique he uses is montage, with newspaper articles his material: language in the media becomes the focus here. Some of the texts simplify the matter for populist consumption and are driven by an appetite for scandal, while others seek to mediate. The juxtaposition of the different tonalities conveys the state of media expression today.
Arne Schmitt lives and works in Cologne. His work won him the Wüstenrot Award in 2013. He was a Karl Schmidt-Rottluff scholar in 2016 and received Bremen’s Böttcherstraße art prize in 2018.