Olaf Metzel, Stammheim, 1984

The sculpture Stammheim by the Munich-based artist Olaf Metzel was created 1984 for the group exhibition Kunstlandschaft Bundesrepublik at the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart. It takes the form of a three-meter-high concrete wreath weighing three tons that leans against the Kunstverein’s exterior wall. The word “Stammheim” has been written next to the wreath in large, white block letters. During the exhibition, this “code word for terrorist militancy and police-state armament” (Walter Grasskamp) was partially overpainted by unknown parties, which Metzel accepted as a reaction to his work. In referencing Stuttgart’s maximum-security prison, the artist was thematizing the repercussions—still strongly felt at the time—of the Stammheim trials against members of the Red Army Faction. Metzel left this sculpture standing after the group exhibition concluded. It is still standing in its original position today.

In 2001 the sculpture was to be torn down based on the initiative of Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry of Finance—purportedly with an aim to restore the building to its “original state.” Only an extensive wave of protests was able to stop the demolition plans. During the same year and in this particular context, the work Stammheim Dokumente, which combines video, drawing, sketches, and various other materials, was created at the invitation of the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart.

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