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Janitors Trash 60 Artworks at German Art Academy
by Max Nesterak

photo: Andreas Endermann via RP

Ist das Kunst oder kann das weg? 

At the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, it was a janitor (or group of conspiring janitors) who offered the final critique for some sixty student artworks. Trash. 

Noting a long standing divide between students and janitors over art being left in the hallways, the Rheinische Post reported the custodial staff destroyed dozens of student artworks with a viciousness usually reserved for hard-to-open packaging and cheating husbands.  

The artworks were recovered from a dumpster behind the school, where students found their canvases had been slashed to pieces and their frames stomped to bits. 

The students are furious. Some of the works were to be used for final projects; others had already been sold. At a school which has produced such greats at Gerhard Richter and Joseph Beuys, it's hard to say what the financial loss is (perhaps bajillions). The worst of it all, according to the students, is the total disregard shown to their work. 

Custodial managers apologized in a letter sent to all the students, saying that none of the workers were given orders to destroy the works. In solidarity, no one has said who is responsible for the massacre.  

Photo: Wiegels via Wikimedia Commons

According to RP, students were often allowed to store their artworks in the hallways due to a shortage of storage space. However, following tightened fire regulations, art was only allowed to be in the hallways for two weeks maximum. Works that were left longer would be brought out to the courtyard to be picked up. 

Judging by the brutality of this purge, some of the students may have been repeat offenders of the two-week rule, which recalls another well-worn German adage: Wer nicht hören kann, muss fühlen. That is, he who can't listen, must feel. 

The academy's director Rita McBride offered her sympathies as well, telling the RP, "This is awful for the students. The artworks are irreplaceable." Looking on bright side, McBride said they would review the floor plans to see if they could create more space for students and perhaps this was just the impetus they needed to solve a greater issue. 

Posted by Max Nesterak on 6/25/14 | tags: Kunstakademie Düsseldorf

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