Felisha Carenage


HEIMATSCHUTZ: Traces of Empire in Schleswig-Holstein's Harbour Cities (2021–2023) . A postgraduate project in cooperation with Flensburg …

HEIMATSCHUTZ: Traces of Empire in Schleswig-Holstein's Harbour Cities (2021–2023). A postgraduate project in cooperation with Flensburg Postcolonial, Kiel Postcolonial and the Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts.

HEIMATSCHUTZ: Koloniale Kontinuitäten in den Hafenstädten Schleswig-Holsteins (2021–2023). Ein Postgraduiertes Projekt in Zusammenarbeit mit Flensburg Postkolonial, Kiel Postkolonial und der Muthesius Kunsthochschule.

🔥Winnetou ist n Splasher!🔥

Winnetou ist ein Splasher! is the title of a YouTube parody by a north german humourist known as Jerry B. Anderson, which surfaced over a decade ago. The video is original, the sound dubbed. Actor Pierre Brice is in full redface as author Karl May’s famously pantywetting fictional Native American Indian Winnetou. Brice is with school-aged children, in some kind of television special.

Following Anderson’s trademarked german/English vulgarisation code, the dubbed Winnetou addresses the children as Splashers, meaning ‘wankers’. In 2013 at the beginning of my Masters in Fine Art at the Muthesius University, my integration into the city and the art school included being shown this video by my then peers. I was elated to have been granted access to this code; to address others as 'Splasher' was not only the height of hilarity, but a truly viable currency among the arbiters of local culture. My peers were surfing, skateboarding, hip-hop-loving, creole-earring-wearing, Fusion-festival-devotee white north germans whose childhoods were formed by the cowboy/ indian fantasy of live-action shows featuring Winnetou; one of the latest generations in a tradition dating back to 1951, when Germany was refurbishing its image.

This tradition is called the Bad Segeberg Spiele, which performs only Karl May's Winnetou stories. Not only are these shows a continuation of colonial violence, but an insidious stronghold of aryan mythmaking. Some of their problematics include: a claim to generations of white actors in redface; the shows are held in a former National Socialist arena which was designed for 'folk entertainment'; the Karl May novels imbued Adolf Hitler's colonial revisionism with romance and wonder, etc. Of the defences made for the Bad Segeberg Spiele, the most popular seems to be this: Winnetou is a myth for the entertainment of children. To criticise the content and context of Winnetou is to threaten and violate the wonder and innocence of white german childhood. That Anderson's parody video features Winnetou with a group of white school-aged children, and not a scene from a film or the stage where Winnetou is with other adult figures, riding a horse or wielding a gun, is the catalyst for this artwork.

Anderson, whose last work appears to have been a coolness sign-off on a white townie rapper, seems, with the Winnetou dubbing, to be acknowledging the untenability of White Innocence. This is paralleled now, ten years later, by progressive german families emptying their homes of Karl May books, beautiful editions of which were gifted by grandfathers and can now be found in the garbage, in book-swaps, on eBay.

Because the parodied and revered Winnetou figured so much in my art-school-specific integration due to racialised desire and subjugation and, especially after 2020, the fake-woke part of blackfishing, I have come to understand him as my Doppelgänger. Winnetou is a canvas upon which Karl May projected his own heroism, sexuality and innocence, which is part of the figure's great appeal to a nation that was only de-nazified on paper.

Using furniture in lieu of canvas, I play with popular national codes of domesticity like belonging, home, culture. The 🔥Winnetou ist n Splasher!🔥 stools are inscribed with the names of german fabulators like May, Anderson, and Tilo Kruse; appropriating their names onto my artworks is an attempt to take over their myths. The stools make painterly reference to the cover art of the Winnetou novels: the romance of these landscapes is sustained through the erasure of human life. This perspective on nature is what helps sustain contemporary forms of the aryan Lebensraum project.

A related artwork is The Librarian, which looked at tropes of colonial fiction in historical romance novels.