Entartet created by Kai Fischer
Eden Court, Inverness
Traverse Theatre / Old Ambulance Depot, Edinburgh
'So in what at first seems a completely dark room, Fischer’s installation invites us to approach a series of stands, each one topped with a small, empty lit space. As we approach, a recording is activated; the words are powerful, vivid, filled with hatred and contempt, and they come from the introductory catalogue of the original exhibition of “Degenerate Art” staged by the Nazis in Munich in 1937, as a terrible warning to the German people about the wrong turning they believed modern art had taken.
What is chilling about this is the familiarity of some of the language; many of the same thoughts recur in public and private conversations about art, across our society, every week. And the impression is reinforced when, as we finish our tour, we are buttonholed by a perfectly reasonable-looking young woman – brilliantly played by Rosalind Sydney or Pauline Goldsmith – who repeats the same fiercely authoritarian and controlling thoughts, in a tone which suggests that no sensible person could really disagree. Mercifully, we still live in a society where varying views about artistic excellence can flourish. Yet Fischer’s important and disturbing installation reminds us of how fragile that freedom can be; and how the top of that short slide towards horror and repression is always much closer to us than we think.'
★★★★ The Scotsman
'It’s the cosiness that draws you into theatre designer Kai Fischer’s moodily lit installation and performance piece. The casual listener might never guess where the words being uttered in such soothing female tones through speakers attached to a series of wooden platforms are taken from. Once you realise they are drawn verbatim from the catalogue for the Nazi-organised Degenerate Art Exhibition that took place in Munich in 1937, the piece takes on a new measure of seriousness.
When performers Pauline Goldsmith and Pauline Lockhart draw the audience into what initially resembles a children’s story-telling session, the content of their sing-song conspiracy is even more chilling.
With sound design by Matt Padden, Fischer has made a major statement on the dangers of how an oppressive state reduces things to a lowest common denominator at their peril. This hauntingly mesmeric treatment of the subject is both a meditation and a warning that all should take heed of.'
★★★★ The Herald
'Kai Fischer is perhaps most famous as the scenographer for Vanishing Point's productions: his use of a glass "fourth wall" gave Interiors, Saturday Night and Wonderland their claustrophobic intimacy, despite being designed and built on a massive scale.
A regular artist with The National Theatre of Scotland, Fischer has become a rare thing: a set designer who is perhaps as well known as a director or actor.
Fischer and sound artist Matt Padden took the text of the exhibition's guide book to create an audio guide to this new installation. (…) A reminder from history about the sometimes awkward relationship between the state and art, Entartet offers lesson in the ways that art can still challenge and scare - and how censorship can be more than just a matter of aesthetics.'
Gareth K. Vile – The Vile Arts Blog
'Kai Fischer is one of Scotland’s leading stage designers, a magician with settings and light. This week, there’s a brief chance for Edinburgh to catch up on his powerful performance installation Entartet, which reflects on the notorious Naziorganised exhibition in Munich in 1937, and the relationship between government and art. What’s chilling is the familiar, apparently innocuous quality of the language the Nazis used, in arguing for their iron-fisted rejection of most modern art; see this show, think hard about it, and cherish freedom.'
Nominated for the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland 2013 for Best Design