"Todeskopf" by Hunter Madsen


TITLE - "Todeskopf" [Diptych]
WHERE - This "skull and bones" sign warned of electrified fencing and the "zone of death" - where prisoners would be shot on sight - surrounding the interior perimeter of Sachsenhausen concentration camp, Oranienburg, Germany (2015)

The ordinary "grinning" appearance of the teeth and jaw on a normal skull have been revised by the designer of this unjolly roger so as to erase any trace of smile. Sachsenhausen was the SS's 1936 prototype for the new model of death camp it would replicate on larger scale elsewhere, a model imposing total and crushing control over the spirits and bodies of its imprisoned victims. For me, the single most striking aspect of what remains of the camp structures and its aesthetics is the Nazi's assiduous elimination of all gestures that might impart any hint of liveliness, beauty, or joy, that might possibly undercut the place's pitiless nihilism.