Ingo Günther

Weisser Raum

Ingo Günther’s work combines artistic fiction and journalistic fact. One of his most spectacular pieces is Shaheed, 1991, which evaluates satellite photo data. It includes facts through which he reconnoitered an artificial Iraqi lake on the Iraq-Iran war front. His report went around the world, not as art, but as news of military strategy. In his capacity as a journalist, Günther visited Iraq two years ago in order to meet Ismail Fatah, the builder of a gigantic 130-foot-high monument. According to Fatah, his opus was dedicated to the eternal memory of all martyrs in the world. On an official level, however, only Iraqi martyrs were commemorated. Günther produced a video of his trip, ultimately using it in this multipart installation entitled Shaheed, which is the official name of Fatah’s memorial. Various images are projected onto four fluttering flags: a series of dates (1945 to 1991), photographs of the monument, satellite pictures and globes, refugee camps, war settings, and TV moderators.

Günther does not really see his work as a commentary on the Gulf War. Rather, the reference to Fatah’s monument is based on the latter’s claim that he is not commemorating any specific martyr; Günther is pursuing similar aims with his installation. He tries to hoist a kind of global flag for those who have increasingly become a nation without a state or homeland in the postwar era—hence, the sequence of numbers starts with 1945. He focuses on refugees, deserters, and also martyrs. Simply put, this is no exhortatory memorial, but the first step in establishing a “national” identity for growing international groups of people.

Günther also showed two earlier works. One is a seven-part monitor tower, Eleven Waiters, 1982/91; the other is a variant of his Ceterum Censeo. . ., 1984/91, which was originally exhibited at the 1984 Venice Biennale, and consists of a heavy, supine motorcycle standing on two monitors, accompanied by videos suggesting the vehicle’s motion. Both pieces testify to Günther’s past rather than his present activity as a media artist.

Wolf Jahn

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.