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Nekerman - old light letters from Bukarest, metal, plastic, variable dimensions -  2008

»‘Nekerman’ is an installation rooted in two interesting phenomenaI encountered during my visits to Bucharest. Firstly, the façades of the city were full of old, crooked and mostly broken neon letters – remnants of a long-forgotten world of commerce from the time before the 1989 Romanian Revolution. Like ruins of a bygone era, they are still part of the cityscape and, despite their dilapidated condition, recall non-existent shops. Secondly, in the socialist era, the mail-order company name ‘Neckermann’ took on a new meaning. Whereas in Germany, Neckerman was known for its very cheap items, in Romania it was seen as representing high-quality consumer goods from the West. Consequently, ‘Nekerman’ became a synonym for top quality in colloquial Romanian. If a carpenter built an excellent table, it was often called a ‘Nekerman table’. Following the collapse of socialism and the ensuing wave of Western consumer goods, the idiom ‘Nekerman’ soon died out. New generations of Romanians are unfamiliar with the term, which is only remembered by older people. For the piece entitled ‘Nekerman’, original old neon letters taken down from façades were assembled into a word sculpture. The result is a kind of new logo using old fonts to spell a word which no longer exists in Romanian.« 

Installation view at Oldenburger Kunstverein, Germany. 

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