MENGELE in ARGENTINA
Australian Galleries, Melbourne, May 30 – June 17
After his time as a Nazi doctor during the war Josef Mengele had to escape Europe for Argentina to avoid being tried and put to death as a war criminal. In Argentina he wanted to develop his research and recording information about identical twins in the lounge room/kitchen, and bathroom in the caravan that he shared with his maid/lover and her daughter. Mengele was particularly interested in identical twins, people with heterochromia iridum (eyes of two different colours), dwarfs, and people with physical abnormalities. Most of Mengele’s experiments involved separating eyes from brains – the eyes are tools for measurement the brain an instrument for understanding. Eyes are excited by detail while the brain considers the context. The eyes tell you why things are different the brain why they’re the same.
Despite being an ocean, a war and decades away from his life as a war criminal in Auschwitz, in Argentina Mengele still imagined a world of people all sharing the same genetic traits – his. Mengele could only create these visions with his eyes closed and during sleep because wartime is like sleep because in both people aren’t fully seen; their past ,their future, their families, their opinions ect. People merely represent the raw material the story you are telling yourself needs.
In Mengele’s Argentina all people sharing the same biological origin become copies of copies and go on to make more copies. A certain amount of diversity and subversion is needed for the health of the human system. No-one wants to be a plumber, everyone a lawyer or a doctor, there are so many doctors in Mengele’s dream that they are unemployed and on park benches feeding pigeons, they are over crowding prisons for petty theft – Mengele himself was jailed for a time in Argentina for practicing medicine without a licence. Over feed giant pigeons roam the streets bullying and killing more exotic and weaker animals.
When people share the same personality type individual idiosyncrasies and small differences are elevated to the status of pop culture and celebrated in mass rallies. In 1950’s Argentina the Guinness Book of World Records began the painstaking recording of the longest fingernail; the biggest earlobe, the furtherest backwards walk ect. When everyone sees everything the same way then there is no surprise, no lying, no art and no advertising. The Guinness Book of Records can store their growing collection of records in abandoned art galleries, theatres, libraries and courtrooms. Only in a dream could someone imagine changing the way people see as preferable to changing what they see.