Sackcloth, straw, and fake hair 210 × 60 × 20 cmAntikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig,
St. Alban-Graben 5
In thirty years spent working together, Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys have cast a merciless perspective on reality in their art. Through numerous approaches – including installation, video, drawing, sculpture, and photography – the duo creates parallel worlds reflective of the modern human psyche and how it manifests itself in everyday aspects of life and civic conformity. Die Schmutzigen Puppen von Pommern (the dirty puppets of Pomerania) depict the descendants of an executioner family from Greifswald in the historical province of Pomerania. In the 12th century, the family monopolized the execution of death sentences against payment and the maintenance of the gallows fields located outside cities and villages. At the height of their power, their realm covered the whole region of Pomerania, extending from Greifswald, Germany, to Stettin in present-day Poland. Given their strong hold on the judiciary, it often occurred that corrupt judges who were under the influence of the family handed down death sentences.
After three generations, the empire suddenly and inexplicably collapsed. The descendants went on to roam Pomerania and were mocked and taunted, and even hundreds of years later, they are still around.