Due to Covid-19, this year’s Comic Festival Hamburg transformed the festival into a panel-walk. The window fronts of small businesses, galleries, and walls of public spaces showcased large-scale comics. In addition to showing Bruchlinien: 3 Episoden zum NSU in the Impossible Library’s window-front, Anne König gave a socially distanced presentation in two empty parking places in front of the library.
Written and published by Leipzig-based Anne König and drawn by Nino Paula Bulling, Bruchlinien: 3 Episoden zum NSU is a groundbreaking comic that reconstructs three undocumented episodes, relating to the German terror group National Socialist Underground (NSU). To this day, the NSU serves as a contemporary and historically embedded case-study of how right wing extremism is still a global problem.
The incidents in the comic paint the missing narration where information was swept under the rug in the five-year-long NSU-trial. The images interlace facts and imagination. It is noteworthy, that the three chapters relate opposing female perspectives: An accomplice to the NSU, who was never tried in court; an unknown bureaucrat, who shredded important files; and a murder victim’s surviving daughter.
Window Fronting for Social Justice
The window front resonated symbolically on multiple levels. Thanks to the iconic artist and founding member of Printed Matter Inc. Lucy Lippard, window fronts are a recognized artistic format for making commentary on social justice issues with print. The Impossible Library also seeks to make the relationship between publishing and society visible.
In the Impossible Library’s window, chapter two of the comic depicts important documents, relating to the NSU trial, being shredded by governmental bureaucrats. The comic panels were custom lithograph prints and installed thanks to the critical design tactics of HEFT. They were mounted ephemerally on black mesh-pillars with office paper clamps and thin wooden rods. In the morning or late afternoon sun, they cast looming shadows.
On one hand, the installation monumentalized untold stories. How information was knowingly withheld and destroyed in the trial. On the other, these pillars seemed to commemorate the nine small business owners: Enver Şimşek, Abdurrahim Özüdoğru, Süleyman Taşköprü, Habil Kılıç, Mehmet Turgut, İsmail Yaşar, Theodoros Boulgarides, Mehmet Kubaşık, Halit Yozgat who fell victim to the NSU terrorist attacks.
The public discussion took place in two parking spaces as a COVID-measure. The passing cars seemed to emphasize how many voices were not heard to this day. Anne König walked us through the publishing processes, the research, and interviews. In the end, a relation between the book and Hamburg crystallized, underlining how no site is innocent in the storytelling of the NSU. Justice, dignity, and healing remain to be served to the victims and families.
Written by Nina Prader
Support: Ina Römling, Urs Spindler, Malte Spindler, Torben Körschkes