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                                                   Their hair is shorter on the right-

                                                    Baldness as generally suspect

A shaved head seems to be a permanent clich and a sign of the violent tendencies of the radical right.Situated between the haircut of a prisoner and that of a soldier, the shaved head belongs along with other elements (tattoos, piercings, badges) to a visual repertoire that is closelsy interwoven with the concepts of political extremism and that still functions with an astonishing lack of ambiguity. In spite of the fact that fashions,brands and hairstyles can no longer be clearly categorized, there is tactic consensus regarding the visual codes of right-wing extremists and how to recognize them.

Mia Unverzagt subtly questions these visual codes and their undifferentiated patterns of classification in a work entitled „We Know Nothing.“ In 1999, she installed, under the landing of a staircase at the Saarbrücken College of Fine Arts, a sparsely furnished interior situated away from the college's main routes. In part protected shrine, in part open space, this room floats in an odd atmosphere somewhere between disclosure and secrecy, between public and private. It is completely intentional that a fleeting glnace into the room reveals nothing, that you could even pas it by without noticing a thing.

In an ambience where nothing seems to be happening, there is a bed made of light pine, with flowered sheets in cheerful colours, set upon an ordinary rug. The covers are turned down; they have an inviting effect. There is a hint of the opressive atmosphere of a middle-class home, especially in the places where pictures from old music boxes pay homage to a sort of ultra-nationalist nostalgia cult. As one intrudes upon this intimacy, a feeling of unease arises; the silence becomes awkward and provocative, And suddenly the floral idyll becomes a confrontional scene the private bedroom setting becomes a secret obsession, for the reverse side of the beadspread reveals, beneath the black red and gold of the German flag, a flag with a swastika.

By this time at the latest, the observer is completely involved, torn between laughter and terror, curiosity and keeping a distance. Photos, scattered about on the floor, seem to confirm the growing suspicion. They show the portrait of a middle-aged person with a shaved head, and at once we become certain: We are in the space, camouflaged as bourgeois, of a radical skinhead. Inevitably, our gaze wanders under the bed, looking for additional evidence for our suspicions; we seek but do not find the bomber jacket and the combat boots. And it is precisely theri absence that holds the meaning of the arrangement in such unbearable limbo and denies our pressing need for certainty.

Trusting in our ability to receive information as well as to misunderstand, Mia Unverzagt places her bets on art's political efectiveness. She questions the legitimising function of images and plays delibaretely with the psychological mechanisms that underlie the stereotypes and fantasies that mass media have codified. The vexation that her installation provokes is productive in that it makes us aware that we are dealing with dubious contructions and attributions, and we are startled anwe at our own evidence when we learn that we shaved skull is the artist's own head which, however; we could not have known.

Carina Herring