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Art May, 15 2012

Die Guillotine by Iman Rezai and Rouven Materne

Our contemporary notion of art generally endorses an abstract analysis of our daily realities and pillories any vestige of nonreflective and unfiltered criticism (pun intended). Even the more surprising and fantastic, that it is exactly the dull and candid hate the work “DIE GUILLOTINE” by Iman Rezai and Rouven Materne provokes from its online audience, that propelles the piece to what it is: a substantial reflection and justifiable comment on our modern democratic society.

The two UdK Master Students built a giant polychromatic, toy-like yet fully functional guillotine, putting their online audience in the position to decide over a sheep’s life or death. Via online vote the spectator can become a mediate executioner or repriever of the animal. Or stay a detached bystander, of course. You can still vote today here.

Words: Nathini van der Meer

Read the rest of the article after the jump.

To say that Rezai and Materne received harsh criticism for their work would be understated. Their youtube-clips as well as their personal facebook-pages where flooded with hate-mail and death threats, their private home-addresses where made public by strangers, within weeks the piece that was initially set up as a winking social experiment evolved into an issue of political dimensions.

It is exactly this naturally occurring segmentation into perpetrator (vote yes) target-oriented activist (vote no) and furious lynch mob that elevated the work to what it is today: a 1,75 Million Euro artefact on the art market, recently sold to an American private collector. It is ironic, that all the frantic protest achieved nothing to amnesty the sheep or topple the project, which mirrors the powerlessness and impotency of any individual member of our democratic society.

The colourful and dazzling guillotine (a comment on the visually bribing yet deeply rotten and dysfunctional nature of our medially governed social system) will come into use – or not – only two days from now. For more information read further, watch their youtube statement or be part of the vote on www.die-guillotine.com.

- All images and film courtesy to Iman Rezai and Rouven Materne -

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