Vienna to Erlangen


Escape from the Hidebound Empire


I wake early and decide to take the opportunity to explore. I make a beeline for Rachel Whiteread’s Holocaust memorial in Judenplatz. Her Embankment installation at Tate Modern has lodged in my memory. The memorial is stark, quiet and eloquent. As I circle it’s concrete hulk the twin doors come upon me with a jolt: there are no handles. The library within is inaccessible because it has been burnt or buried or liquidated. I touch the pages of one of the silent books. A policewoman stands guard, presumably to protect the sculpture from desecration. She has missed the dirty purple teddy slumped in the doorway, with an “I Love You” cushion in its lap, shaped like a heart. Good grief. Somebody has inserted flowers in the empty holes where the doorknobs should be. It is the flagrant juxtaposition of the emptily sentimental with the sedately profound.

After last night’s show I met an old friend who now lives in nearby Bratislava. He told me of a frightening fascist march he had recently witnessed in a financially crippled Hungary. He said they were chillingly organised and disciplined. The allure of order in a tumultuous world. We like to think in Britain we’re too messy to ever embrace such mechanised ideology, too wayward. I remember a local Pakistani newsagent asking, as I bought an issue of Private Eye sporting a Nick Griffin halloween mask, if the fascists would ever have power in Scotland. I laughed and said I thought they were too comical. But I knew that was glib. I don’t think it’s them we must be wary of; I think it’s ourselves.

Back across the border we fly over the Danube a third time and cut north to Nuremberg. The gig is in a small town on the outskirts – a bit like Lanark, in fact.  The venue itself is situated in a hinterland between an enormous Cash & Carry and a multi-storey car-park. It’s some kind of arts centre, I’m really not sure. I plug in my shit and play my half-hour and fuck off, like a sad half-hearted cattle raid executed on a mule, armed with a pillow and a paint gun.