Andreas Siekmann

After Dürer (2019)

Andreas Siekmann’s column on Griesplatz is a contemporary interpretation of Albrecht Dürer’s unrealized Monument to the Vanquished Peasants (1525). With this sketch and description Dürer was reacting to the so-called German Peasant War, during the course of which the rural population of what is now southern Germany and Austria revolted against feudal rule after the first waves of industrialization and globalization had robbed them of their means of subsistence. Today, fully industrialized agriculture devours the resources of an exhausted planet and the sheaths of wheat, scythes, and chicken cages from Dürer’s monument are more familiar from advertising than real life. The defeated peasant himself is an ambivalent figure, the sword in his back painfully reminiscent of the widespread right-wing legend of core populations being stabbed in the back by cosmopolitan traitors.

Siekmann reveals the drastic economic changes that have occurred by replacing the animals at the base of the column with new allegorical figures. These images are drawn from the brave, new, and scary economy that forces everyone to become an investor and to act accordingly. There are soup cans printed with portraits of the economic Darwinists of the Austrian School, who described and legitimated the paradigms of today’s economy. They saw the demand for social justice as the gravest threat to a market economy and to freedom. The soup cans themselves are reminiscent of survival reserves stocked in a luxury bunker. There are also guns to ward off the hungry masses, drawn from the Austrian weapons industry. In a broken vending machine with a retractable claw, one sees sleep masks with riddles* on them. Their answers contain the stark self-understanding of a situation in which imposed scarcity and compulsive overproduction devour the future. Yet the claw is broken and the solutions are impossible to grasp. The great wheel of fortune is a drum of copper cable, which is still the metal frequently used to transmit data and energy. The wheel is moved by the four continents—figures that are motifs from a colonial painting from the Kingdom of Peru, whose riches flooded the Habsburg Empire and turned the European economy upside down, impoverishing the population and leading to revolts of peasants, artisans, miners, and artists alike.

* Riddles

It’s always near,
It’s never here.
When you think your time has come,
It takes on another name.

It hangs together hole to hole but still stays whole!

The rich never get me, the poor often do.
But mere mortals know not how to thank me.
When you have me, you aren’t happy,
If you don’t have me, you are ill.

What gnaws without teeth and runs without legs,
Only the dead can defeat it?


Ecke Griesplatz und Griesgasse
8020 Graz
♿ Venue accessible for wheelchairs

Google Maps

Griesplatz / corner Griesgasse

Free access

Commissioned and produced by steirischer herbst ’19

Off-site production: Carlota Gómez, Benjamin Koziol
Column produced by Setfreddy (Freddy Gizas, Christos Vasilopoulos, Alexander Vikhrov, and Maria Vythoulka)

Andreas Siekmann (1961, Hamm, Germany) is an artist and curator with an ongoing interest in the complex workings of neoliberal capitalism and its disastrous effects on political and social structures. His drawings, videos, exhibition projects, and works in public space offer ironic visions of the power structures and economic relations that overdetermine life as we know it. Siekmann lives in Berlin.