Skandal! Artistic Scandals around the Turn of the Century

(Panel)


German

Sarah Koellner (College of Charleston)

While the openness of western liberal societies, according to Klettenhammer (2007), makes it difficult for artists and public figures alike to cause scandals in contemporary society, the “Kulturbetrieb” witnessed a rapid increase of artistic scandals at the turn of the century. Such scandals ranged from plagiarism in Helen Hegemann’s Axolotl Roadkill, the liberation of female sexuality in Charlotte Roche’s Feuchtgebiete, personal right violations in works of autofiction such as Maxim Biller’s Esra, media hate campaigns against the Austrian author Stefanie Sargnagel, to the “Schmähkritik” by Jan Böhmermann. All scandals mentioned above had in common that they are triggers, symptoms, and provocations against socially constructed boundaries and limitations of the “Kulturbetrieb.” These boundaries were once more recalibrated on the institutional level, with the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2017, when right-wing publishing houses utilized its public platform to claim that they were “ausgegrenzt” from the “Kulturbetrieb.” What followed was an extensive debate on the legal concept of free speech and the implications of censorship on the institutional level.

This session seeks papers in English and German that zoom in on mechanisms, methods, and contributions of artistic scandals in contemporary German-speaking society at the turn of the century. By aiming to reflect upon the institutions that constitute those norms in the first place, individual contributions can focus on the representation, performance, and staging of artistic violations of societal, political, and legal norms. Individual submissions may grapple with, but are not limited to the following questions: What constitutes artistic scandal in the first place? What is the role of artists, media, and the public in mediating the different phases of such scandals? Which factors make a scandal successful and how do they change over time? What are recurring patterns, themes, and tropes of scandalization that are shared by the artists and public figures? Which artists use (self)scandalization and provocation for their positioning in the artistic field?

This session zooms in on mechanisms, methods, and contributions of artistic scandals, ranging from plagiarism in Helen Hegemann’s Axolotl Roadkill to the "Schmähkritik" by Jan Böhmermann at the turn of the century. By aiming to reflect upon the institutions that constitute those norms in the first place, the panel focuses on the representation, performance, and staging of artistic violations of societal, political, and legal norms in the German-speaking culture.