Warfare, with a particular focus on the history of fascism in Germany, has long been a shared research interest of ours. The piece Zeppelins and Phalluses was prompted by the discovery of the book Zeppelin - Weltfahrten at a local antique market in NJ. Although the book lacks information on the publisher and publishing date, I believe it dates back to Germany’s Nazi reign pre-WW2, possibly after 1933 and before the Hindenburg disaster in May 1937.
This assumption is based on the scripture rendered in old German calligraphy at the beginning of the book. It celebrates the Zeppelin as the “pride of the nation, a unique symbol of Germany’s power and place within the history of humankind, achieved through its indomitable will and creative spirit” (translation, Erbacher).
The book contains original prints depicting airships used in war as well as passenger airships used during peace times. We selected some of these prints for our piece, and juxtaposed them with images of stone and ceramic votives from ethnographic collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Science Museum, London, amongst others.
Beyond their formal echoes and the use of the phallus as a symbol of masculine power, these juxtapositions point to the connections between warfare, colonialism, as well as, the Western discipline of archeology, as physical and ideological manifestations of white supremacy throughout history.