zingmagazine10 autumn 1999







about zing


alexis vaillant
love for sale
lutwidge finch a novel: chapter 5
evil camouflage


adriaan von der have

rafael von uslar

evil camouflage

A snapshot: Kevin is sitting under a Christmas tree in Munich holding a framed postcard. The Heinrich Hoffmann photo shows Adolf Hitler in profile looking into the light of candles enflamed on a Christmas tree. Intended as a contribution to gay and festive celebrations, the card is entitled "Deutsche Weihnacht". This man staring into open fire with relaxed features, just about to crack into a smile is an entirely cynical concept and in this sense the perfect ready made illustration for 'Evil Camouflage'.

"Psychologists discover everything to be camouflage. It is then made clear how little these experts know of tanks."i For the passage from France to England, Caesar invented the little green men, later in Scotland, at Birnam, the woods were taken for a walk, in short, human mimicry practiced in a terrain of military significance has had many literary and historical predecessors. Nevertheless, the technique of camouflage, as we know it, is a 20th century contribution to the history of warfare. It is the strategy of obscuring objects with the intention of deceiving the enemy. These objects can be subjected to the attempt to render them invisible within their given surrounding, or to make them appear as something, they are in fact not. Its invention is closely linked to Modernism. Seemingly, military camouflage, its patterns provided by Cubism, Vorticism, or Futurism applied, often in quite a dazzling way, is nothing but modern art put to use and practise.

As such, "Evil Camouflage" is yet another example of the abuse of Warlike techniques for peacetime pastime activitiesii. The artworks assembled for this project, as diverse in style and context as they may be, all employ some strategy of disguise, obscurity or deceit in their technique of communication. Against the background of the viewer's expectations, the appearance of an image or the nature of the presented topic might read as harmless or as pleasant. A closer look reveals that the story told has taken rather unexpected turns. In such a manner, "Evil Camouflage" gives room to trick and twist and make ironic. In its finest examples it offers a forum for the challenged states of mind or serves as a technique for insight and critique.

This project also takes into account the natural existence of camouflage. Even in nature, no one is safe. "There are predators everywhere. The possibility of discovery and of subsequent death provides the arena for the evolution of deceptive strategies."iii In the course of the following investigation into contemporary evolutionary practise, four arenas will be entered. "The Female" introduces mean kids, evil mothers and sexual desires. "The Body" is subject to mutations and mutilations. "Objects" will be introduced as the anticipation of casualties. And some "Suspicious Minds" reflect upon attitudes and politics.