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Frankfurter Hauptschule, Frankfurt. Hypocrisy and crassness in the name of art

The assistance of the internet and the abundant possibilities creators are given. It’s about staying hidden behind engineered personalities while creating art for the audiences

How far can art go at Frankfurter Hauptschule?

The mystery and allure of high-profile individuals have played out in one of two ways. For some, it works best in their favor – creating buzz and attention that elevates their career to a higher plateau. Creators like Banksy and Elena Ferrante, have gone on to become household names in their field of expertise. Consumers of art are able to discern the thesis of art and its multifarious creators in this zeitgeist. With the assistance of the internet and its abundant possibilities creators are given means to stay hidden behind engineered personalities while creating their art for their audiences. This is how artist collective Frankfurter Hauptschule have been circumventing their presence in the art scene. 

Frankfurter Hauptschule was brought to life in 2013. Twenty-three individuals at the Städelschule in Frankfurt formatted the collective. They are constructed to explore the limits of discomfort in the arts under the eye of the public. The artist collective has insisted on molding their works based on the exploration of societal resilience while pushing the boundaries of legal responsibilities. 

The birth of the artist collective

The artist collective, began their entrance into the scene through scrutiny and questioning from the public. It was birthed under the guiding ethos of exploration of societal resilience, a means to explore art amongst peers. A signifying theme drew Frankfurter Hauptschule’s members together – the aversion of hypocrisy. The anonymous speaker explains that the irony of individuals who create works of art that rely on crass-ness and a lack of self-awareness fueled the thesis of creation at Frankfurter Hauptschule. 

«Creators who frame their works of art, ones that have been created in the pretense of ‘noble’ work but in turn are for profit are how we steer our artwork. There is irony in how consumers consume, and purchase said art as well». The journey of Frankfurter Hauptschule stemmed from ritualistic initiation practices that have piqued people’s interests and put some off. With eleven founding members in its budding stage, the artist collective grew in number. Though three members of the collective have resigned themselves from contributing and creating art, the members have remained in a set of prime numbers. A probable artistic choice as pointed out by the anonymous interviewee. 

The games played in the name of art

Beginning its foray into the arts by creating counterfeit tickets to the Wagnerfestspiele in Bayreuth, Frankfurter Hauptschule distributed the made-up tickets to unassuming consumers of the arts. The great-granddaughter of Wagner himself then reported the collective to the authorities. «We did our first art performance in line with the 200-year jubilee of German composer, Richard Wagner». To legitimize themselves, Frankfurter Hauptschule designed and realized fifty thousand tickets for the opening concert. The members of the collective worked throughout Bayreuth and distributed them by direct mail, attaching a make-believe letter from the festival management. «In the statement that we concocted, we penned in detail regarding the course of the re-democratization of the anti-Semite Wagner alongside notable German figures like Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Adolf Hitler who we believe should be receiving their amnesty». 

Acting as a means to get the public out to the streets and stand in solidarity against the political views the composer held, the anonymous speaker explicates that they fibbed tickets and management letters to shed a clear and unbiased view on Wagner. «Frankfurter Hauptschule intended on harnessing the feelings that were built up from the public. Either from the obvious satire or their feelings about Wagner himself». The spokesperson explains that members who were in charge of distributing the tickets for the show did so using gloves. Reported to the authorities by the festival management and the great-granddaughters of Wagner, the artist collective was not persecuted. There was little to no evidence against them that they were the culprits behind the movement. 

Art as a mirror to society 

A moment in time when Frankfurter Hauptschule’s work was regarded as a moving or show-stopping, was ‘Bad Beuys go Africa’. The intention of the art movement was to shed light on missing historical reappraisals during the period of German colonialism. «A significant number of historical items, cultural goods and art were stolen and displayed around the world».

To counter the theft, the artist collective set out to acquire Joseph Beuys’ ‘Capri-Batterie’ from an exhibition in the Oberhausen. Upon acquiring it the pieces, Frankfurter Hauptschule transferred them to an ethnological museum in Tanzania called Iringa Boma. Days into conducting the heist, the curator for the ethnological museum, Deonis Mgumba set a public statement, sharing that the ‘Capri-Batterie’ acquired was in fact a replica, a staged performance art in collaboration with the artist collective. «Tanzanian art and cultural properties attached to its home country should be returned, he asserted». 

Frankfurter Hauptschule received a number of requests and commissions after establishing themselves in the art community. What set Frankfurter Hauptschule apart from varied contemporary artist collectives was their intent in righting wrong. The public stance to get art returned to its home state was documented with Toto’s ‘Africa’ accompanying it. The members of the artist collective booked a luxury resort and dressed in beige safari suits. Their campaign slogan stated ‘We believe in critical wellness Acting as ‘white saviors’. Frankfurter Hauptschule signified themselves as supplier for alternative art movements and performances alongside to the pieces that thrive in holding up a mirror to society’s ironic understanding of critical topics. 

Exhibitions by Frankfurter Hauptschule

Alongside to their international exploits, Frankfurter Hauptschule realized the impossible. They tarnished Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s house in Weimar by decorating it with toilet paper. The performance was coined ‘LOLita’ through a rigorous series of planning stages. Some of which included press releases with the affixed hashtag, #MeToo. «Our belief lied in the fact that the movement should not exclude the ‘pillar saint’ of German culture. In another statement, we demeaned the end of the new-moral guardianship in the arts». Segregating the press statements between the German press and varied news sources, Frankfurter Hauptschule’s intent in concocting this art movement was a means to raise awareness of two projects under the same title.

«The thematic ideations of the projects with the same name – the other being a commune of artists creating works of art drawn from nude photos of them from their childhood – served as a means to highlight sexual abuse and its relationship with artistic freedom». The intermingling themes of each topic, though abundant in conflict and inner undercurrents reflected best how the artist collective felt about it, explaining that the ‘confusion, though nice, expressed the inner turmoil felt regarding the issue’. 

There was a lack of exploration in the area of sexual abuse compared to the individual they prompted – Goethe. Frankfurter Hauptschule has collaborated with musicians as well, regarding them to be demanding, if not more than traditional artists. «We have an adoration for the midwestern band Salem. We would be keen on directing a music video of theirs in the upcoming future».

The online store

Frankfurter Hauptschule’s website exists as an online store, designed as a wanted poster for the Rote Armee Fraktion [RAF]. Users who click on the items are prompted with a RAF member wearing a piece of clothing attached to Frankfurter Hauptschule. Selling t-shirts, hats, and hoodies along with 3D replicas of Beuys’ ‘Capri-Batterie’ one is able to purchase artifacts from their art performances as well, one being a burnt-down police car. 

The future

Frankfurter Hauptschule held their first institutional show in January. The also held a guest professorship at the Berlin University of Arts for the span of a year. In tandem, the collective has been working on the release of their primary publication, ’10 Jahre Frankfurter Hauptschule’. Publishing the works alongside Walther König, the collective is on route to release another publication with Merve.

Frankfurter Hauptschule is keen on participating in the fashion realm as well. They are intent to situate themselves under a professional light in their ventures in the arts. Keen on drawing allusions from politics – which they regard to be a rich pool of inspiration for art in this era – highlighting class struggles, the revolution, international war crisis that is taking place and the imminent dictatorship of the proletariat to name a few. Stating that art thrives on the conflict of the times, the spokesperson of the collective explains that they are ready to signify their presence in the art world, albeit predicting their short-lived fame in the spotlight. 

Frankfurter Hauptschule 

Am Hauptbahnhof 4, Frankfurt am Main

Frankfurter Hauptschule is an artist collective consisting of nineteen individuals, who remain hidden behind the realms of reality. Prompting a realization of art through the use of crass satire, the artist collective is keen on holding up a mirror to the blind-sided hypocrisy that consumers of art uphold against the political climate of the current times.

Pravin Nair

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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