Art provides a powerful tool for social and political activism. 1000 Gestalten proved this in a creative way at this year’s G20 meeting in Hamburg with a thought-provoking and unforgettable march. The 2-hour procession of 1000 gray figures walking in silence in a zombie-like state captured the attention of the world. A metaphor for our modern society, the characters represent a dangerous disconnect between humanity and progress. As some figures fall, the others continue to march, unperturbed. The goal – whatever it may be – becomes the group’s only purpose, while the individuals become anonymous victims. Like the entire group, they don’t have an identity, with only constant marching giving their existence meaning.
But the end of the performance turns everything upside down. The figures, released from the dehumanizing sleep state regain their individuality as well as their humanity. Colors and smiles abound as the participants embrace. “We want to put back in memory how compassion and public spirit conveys identity for a society,” the collective says in a statement, adding that “what will save us in the end is not our account balance but someone who will offer their holding hand.” Founded only in February 2017, the 1000 Gestalten art collective organized the performance art event over the course of several weeks, with the help of over a hundred of volunteers as well as the assistance of Gängeviertel Hamburg and Alles Allen. Photographs© Andrea Ruester and Christian Angl.