Nell Frizzell “Heil Kitty: weaponising cuteness to shame neo-Nazis” http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/jan/30/hello-kitty-herr-nilsson-nazi-graffiti-street-art-protest
“I’m always looking for strong symbols and iconic images from history and popular culture,” says Herr. “Then I put them together to give them new meaning.” In the case of Burning Love and Hell Kitty, the political meaning is almost as cartoonish as the imagery itself; the rise of neo-Nazis in Europe today is a disgrace. The Hello Kitty characters take on the famous pose of American soldiers in Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima*4, only this time they’re raising a Nazi standard. Which is why Herr has chosen this week – the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz*5 – to release it. “In the articles next to the ones about Auschwitz, I have read about the advancing neo-Nazis,” explains Herr. “It pisses me off, so I reacted with these two paintings.”
According to the BBC*6, more than 180 people have been killed in rightwing attacks in Germany over the last 20 years, and neo-Nazis have murdered more people in postwar Germany than any other single group, including Islamists and the far left, but this is “yet to be reflected in official data”. The pasted paintings of Herr Nilsson are a counterpoint to the pro-Nazi murals found in Jamal*7, a village in northern Germany that has been almost completely taken over by the far right*8 . Perhaps, following the Charlie Hebdo attacks*9 , Herr Nilsson is reminding us not to take our eye off this other, homegrown threat. “The human being always seems to balance on the thin line between love or hate,” says Herr. “I included Hello Kitty because she is so harmless, symbolising goodness and friendship. But in my art pieces she is outrageous; blinded by hatred, she has transformed into a mad rebel fighting against love, peace and understanding.”
*1:See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20080610/1213028422 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20091122/1258909060 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20131107/1383791427 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20140829/1409331870 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20141201/1417409678
*5:See Laszlo Balogh “A lifetime surviving Auschwitz” http://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2015/jan/26/auschwitz-liberation-70th-anniversary-survivors See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150114/1421245848 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150126/1422242503
*8:Link to Maximilian Popp "Right-Wing Extremism: The Village Where the Neo-Nazis Rule" http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/right-wing-extremism-the-village-where-the-neo-nazis-rule-a-737471.html See also David Rising “Jamel, Neo-Nazi Village, Shocks Germany“ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/07/jamal-neo-nazi-village-shocks-_n_819454.html Jamal or Jamel?
*9:See Kim Willsher “Murdered Charlie Hebdo staff to be honoured at 42nd Angoulême comic book festival” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/29/murdered-charlie-hebdo-staff-honoured-angouleme-comic-book-festival See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150107/1420655628 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150109/1420743027 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150110/1420859048 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150111/1421005862 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150112/1421033092 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150114/1421212799