Monochrom: Nazi Petting Zoo

Today on Boing Boing tv, “Nazi Petting Zoo,” a new piece of political theater by Austrian art prankster collective monochrom, who explain:

In 1938 Austria joined the Third Reich. Millions cheered Hitler and in the referendum 99.75% said ‘yes’ to ‘Greater Germany’.

But after World War II, many Austrians sought comfort in the idea of Austria as “the Nazis’ first victim”.
Factions of Austrian society tried for a long time to advance the view that it was only annexation at the point of a bayonet(te).

But it’s time to embrace history.
It’s time to remember the feel-good days of 1938.
It’s time to let our real feelings out!
It’s time to hug the Nazi, Austria!
Finally!

Previous Boing Boing tv episodes featuring monochrom:

* Fisch Interview
* Orwell’s 1984 deconstructed by puppets: monochrom
* Monochrom’s Marxist sock puppets
* Monochrom: MyFaceSpace, the musical
* Monochrom: Campfire at Will

* Monochrom: Falco Stairs
* Monochrom: Bar code artist Scott Blake / Falco stencil memorial
* Human USB Hack / Very Simple Motor
* Mark’s Curie Engine / Monochrom’s love song for Lessig

About Xeni Jardin

Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: xeni@boingboing.net.
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41 Responses to Monochrom: Nazi Petting Zoo

  1. holtt says:

    By the way Johannes the beginning of the film reminds me of the trailer for a game I used to work on. See it at…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BRYhg7MKec

  2. holtt says:

    Ah and if you skip through the game footage, be sure and watch the closing credits/scenes.

  3. grenz says:

    @holtt: Thanks. Nice ;-)

    I think that good art/performance/philosophy creates spheres that are “in-between”. You first have to get used to some kind of new cultural grammar… and for many people that’s a quite eerie thing to experience.

  4. help i cant comfirm my username themelonbread says:

    Surprisingly… adorable. C_c;

  5. holtt says:

    /me looks around for cries of outrage over trivializing and using the horrors of the past for humor.

  6. mujadaddy says:

    Kewagi: I don’t know whether I should be offended or flattered about you thinking I’m 20.

    Take it as flattery– you look young, d00d! :P

    Re: Continuum of Artistic Importance — You’re welcome. :)

  7. Lilorfnannie says:

    @ Holtt- Yeah, that was kind of my point. I don’t think it’s funny.

  8. mujadaddy says:

    @orfnAnnie & Holtt:

    If Mel Brooks can write ‘The Producers’ then we can laugh at anything.

    Get off your high horse.

  9. Robert says:

    LOL, what? No sponsor for this episode?

  10. holtt says:

    Mujadaddy I was trying to point some other horses to this thread. It’s sort of interesting what makes people go off.

    I’m kind of indifferent to the video personally. I really found Der Untergang and Bruno Ganz’s acting more persuasive and thought provoking. And The Producers indeed is very funny.

  11. Contrasoma says:

    99.75, eh? During a brief stop-over in Vienna, I found a memorial dedicated to “the brave Soviet soldiers who gave their lives to liberate Austria”. Seemed a tad disingenuous.

  12. mujadaddy says:

    Well, to be honest, there is humor and then there are ATTEMPTS at humor…

    I haven’t watched the vid yet, but I did D/L it to my computer. Let me watch it to determine which of these two categories it falls into.

    …also, I didn’t mean it as confrontationally as it might come across in plaintext. :) I’m a friendly guy :P

  13. Lilorfnannie says:

    There’s a difference between “The Producers” and this clip. “The Producers” was very obviously pointing out that it is the height of horribleness to trivialize Nazis & the Holocaust, and use it for humor and to earn money from it. I don’t see where the producers of this little film are making any such distinction. The Nazi here is trivialized & warm-fuzzied up & petted, but I don’t see any corresponding shock to the audience of how horrible it is to do so. Sure there’s some point in the clip (not the actual event, I think) that Austria is lying about it’s past & white-washing it. But that’s still not the point.

  14. kewagi says:

    @teapunk: After about ten minuts, two cops arrived on the scene and checked us out, only to leave few minutes later with the comment, “meh, that must be art, let’s leave them alone.”

  15. holtt says:

    Heheh no problem.

    I guess when I watched it I thought, “OK kind of funny – briefly.” I fast forwarded through the street scenes. At the same time, I could see why someone would really use words like “offended” and “trivializing history” in response to it.

    I suppose the problem with performance art or satire is that if people don’t take it for it’s intended worth, is it successful? If it only seeks to amuse the performer, then I don’t know if it’s that valuable.

    Imagine if you made a giant inflatable Hitler doll, then rigged up a large flat plate with an air pump under it. Every time someone stepped on the plate, a bit more air inflated the doll.

    Now set it in the middle of a busy sidewalk. The “mindless masses” walking through the city slowly but surely will inflate the doll. You can’t point your finger at any one of them and say, “YOU made it happen!” nor can you ask any one of them, “Why did you do it?” as none of them will really know they even did anything.

    Interestingly, if you let them keep walking over the pump, they could eventually burst the doll from over inflation. Just as each contributed a bit to its creation, they also contribute to its destruction. And in the end, you could perhaps choose one person and say, “You were the one!”

  16. Xeni Jardin says:

    @Derek, wait, where are the nazi monkeys? Johannes, did you send Derek Nazi Monkeys and leave me out? Fck you guys! I want nazi monkeys too!

  17. GregLondon says:

    wikipedia says the 99.7% referendum was rigged. No citations given, though, so who can tell…

  18. Teapunk says:

    @DVX: Hm, I didn’t know that. But you have to admit that the use of Nazi symbols albeit admitted for art is treading a very thin line here.
    Some years ago the Green politician Claudia Roth was sued because she wore a antifa protest swastika (http://www.claudia-roth.de/29051.0.html?&no_cache=1&expand=46904&displayNon=1&cHash=d91703eee1)

    @Johannes and Grenz: Yep, I can imagine the Austrian police with a good dose of schmäh…

    It’s always difficult to make fun of something so terrible, Chaplin and Brooks did a fine job. Even if you don’t think this video here is funny (I sort of do), it does raise awareness to a topic noone should ever forget.
    BTW: If you translated it into “embrace the Nazi” it would have been even more ambiguous.

  19. Elvis Pelt says:

    monochrom is god. many of us, though we are loathe to admit it, simply keep our pet nazis in some convenient boardroom or the united states senate.

    on a side note, as a former junior rocketeer: just as soon as I can scrounge up the dough for a bitchin’ estes kit, i, too, shall annex a bit of dirt (and the glorious blue sky above it) for soviet unterzoegersdorf!

    (of course, years later, as i stroll through the streets of mexico city with a most excellent heat on, i will be assassinated by a bolshevik [er, menshevik?] with a titanium dart shot through the touch-pad of an apple nano. bummer.)

  20. holtt says:

    Xeni, see Nelson C’s link in the first post.

  21. mujadaddy says:

    #1 posted by Nelson.C , July 2, 2008 6:45 AMI’m sorry, but the headline makes me think of this lascivious pulp cover.
    NAZI MONKEYS WITH SAW HANDS

    HOLY FUCKING CRAP ON A STICK

  22. mujadaddy says:

    OK, I’ve watched it now.

    Artistically, more important than Cristo, but less important than The Producers.

    Entertainment-wise? Meh. The live performance was probably much better than the video reflection thereof.

    I’m not sure how anyone can consider a little guy dressed as a brownshirt in a pen a problem. Art & artists, from an entropy standpoint, are generally a waste of everyone’s time, but I think the general idea was a good one: put a Nazi in a pen and see how the Art makes the People feel.

    How *did* it make them feel? It looked like everyone was having a good time. Even the Gegen-Nazi kid got his hug/scratch/pet. If a little kid who actually lives in Austria can have a sense of humor about a caged Nazi, then can’t we all?

    To sum up: Cute, not Important.

    @Holtt: THAT IS A GREAT IDEA. Maybe not in NYC or Miami though ;)

  23. Xeni Jardin says:

    Whoah that’s awesome.

  24. ill lich says:

    I was going to start a blog to discuss the Nazis and Hitler, but then realized nobody could leave a comment without breaking Godwin’s Law.

  25. Sio says:

    Perhaps we could have “The Eugenicists Petting Zoo” here. We could put in it Alexander Graham Bell, H.G. Wells, Margaret Sanger, George Bernard Shaw. Then maybe could celebrate the birthplace of eugenics.

  26. dvx says:

    @#4: Actually, the display of nazi symbols is permitted in Germany purposes of art, education, scholarship, history and similar.

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verwenden_von_Kennzeichen_verfassungswidriger_Organisationen

  27. Nelson.C says:

    I’m sorry, but the headline makes me think of this lascivious pulp cover.

  28. larf says:

    Incredible! Nearly fell of my chair laughing!

  29. Kieran O'Neill says:

    Oh man, the handshake with the guy in the “Polska” T-shirt had me in stitches.

  30. Teapunk says:

    The Australians at the end chilled me to the bone.
    But it’s nice to see that some Austrians do remember they weren’t victims of Hitler – they wanted him. Let’s also not forget that Hitler was Austrian, too. Since Austria likes to hide in the comfortable victim zone, there’s been much less reflection about the Third Reich than in Germany – which is a bad thing.

    I think it’s pretty weird this was allowed in Austria. In Germany, the display of Nazi insignia and the swastika are forbidden.

  31. grenz says:

    @holtt: I think art is a really great way to present reality without having to present reality.

  32. larf says:

    @teapunk: We didn’t ask for permission. And actually, we were pretty sure police would arrest us. Wiederbetaetigung. But they didn’t.

    All the best from Vienna
    Johannes

  33. grenz says:

    @teapunk and @larf:
    Sorry, my friend, for stealing your identity. I should use my own computer to post comments — and not use the ones of Museumsquartier office colleagues. Or at least log out first ;-))

    Johannes

  34. Lilorfnannie says:

    I feel like I’m from a completely different world, looking at this. If I were a man & if I had been there & seen that, I would have been strongly tempted to cold-cock that Nazi. Or any Nazi, for that matter. Joke/Art or whatever, I don’t get it, people were petting a Nazi. I’d sooner deck him.

  35. Lilorfnannie says:

    Sorry for double-posting, but let me make it clear please that of course I know that guy wasn’t a *real* Nazi. I don’t think it makes a difference.

  36. larf says:

    @grenz: You owe me a beer. ;-)

  37. Bledsoefilms says:

    the nazi monkeys are now set as my desktop.

    Derek Bledsoe
    Segment Producer, BBtv

  38. holtt says:

    True. As a devil’s advocate question though, what if people can’t tell it is art, and assume it is reality?

  39. mujadaddy says:

    A reality where 20-year-old Brownshirts are held in pens in the public square? SIGN ME UP! ;)

  40. kewagi says:

    @mujadaddy: I don’t know whether I should be offended or flattered about you thinking I’m 20.

    Also, while many people found the whole thing funny, there were some who were puzzled, angered and even outraged.

    thanks for the cristo-the producers line, btw :)

  41. grenz says:

    @holtt: Well, then -I guess- reality is a great way to present art without having to present art.
    The Twilight Zone of Dialectics.

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