Ein lebendiger Gartenzwerg in Bad Ems: HD video 5min. 33 sec. / 2010 / Actor: Josef Zeman / Voice-over: Tammo Sachs
Bad Ems is a small town in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is the county seat of the Rhein-Lahn rural district and is well-known as a bathing resort on the river Lahn.
In october 2010 the artists Ondrej Brody and Kristofer Paetau – winner of the ‘Kunstpreis Balmoral’ art award – realized a public artwork in Bad Ems with the thematic stipulated by the Art Award: Provokation aus der Provinz (Provocation from the province). Their award winning project is called: Ein lebendiger Gartenzwerg in Bad Ems.
A man of short stature, dressed up as a garden gnome, will accompany the two artists in the public space and in the gardens of inhabitants of Bad Ems. The little man – Josef Zeman from Czech Republic – works as an actor and model in Prague where the artists contracted him from a casting studio for film and television.
According to Wikipedia: today there are estimated to be about 25 million garden gnomes in Germany. A recent problem was the production of cheap garden gnomes by plagiarism, which came less from the Asian region rather than from Eastern Europe. Accordingly, the “Live Garden Gnome in Bad Ems” also comes from Eastern Europe since it was cheaper than a German one.
Garden gnomes are often regarded with an ironic and critical undertone, as a sign of bad taste and a good example of kitsch. But what could be the motivation of the artists Brody & Paetau to do a work with a live Gartenzwerg in Bad Ems? They say that they are interested in a different kind of public art and to get in direct contact with the population by working with an actor as a ‘living sculpture’. Nowdays anything can be art it seems, but the times when a sculpture was still carved out of stone fill our hearts with nostalgia…
Many works of art in public spaces meet with opposition. The ‘public’ in the public space is usually not prepared for contemporary art, or perhaps not interested in dealing with art at all. Of course children are an easy target because they are curious and have no preconceived ideas about art. But should we tolerate that these so-called artists are abusing a handicapped person and making fun out of him, putting him in the role of a Gartenzwerg!?