Swetlana Heger (born 1968 in Brünn, Czech Republic; lives and works in Berlin, Germany).
Photographs of all the former monuments of Stalin in East Berlin melted down into animal sculptures after 1989. Black-and-white photographs in colored frames.
“Starting with concrete fact, Heger quickly delves into a territory that indexes the points at which urban myth blurs with historical accuracy. She faithfully delineates a narrative that may or may not be factually true, but which almost certainly points to a larger truth about the rapid remolding of ideologies. According to the story doggedly pursued (or constructed, depending on your point of view) by Heger, the defunct Stalin monument was melted down and its bronze recycled and reincarnated as animal statuettes. Scattered throughout the parks of Berlin, these representations of apes, giraffes, chickens, bears, and donkeys stray into the territory of public kitsch, even as they effectively enact a humble antithesis to the bombast of the original statue.
“For Animal Farm Heger methodically tracked down and photographed these sculptures, recording them in a series of somber black-and-white images. Despite the grim quality of the images – the parks are devoid of human life, and the sky seems permanently overcast – there is a sly humour derived from the inconsistency between the deadpan documentary tone of the photography and the childishly whimsical forms of the statues themselves. Certainly anti-heroic, seemingly anti-ideological, the statues – by way of their origin – are nonetheless infused with historical and ideological significance. ‘Animal Farm’ has to do with the persistent contamination of history and the residue left in the wake of grand historical gestures, whether physical or ideological.”
—Katie Kitamura, review of Swetlana Heger, Frieze, June 6, 2007.