Controversial German Art Collective Buries Deceased Migrants in Berlin

The collective also wants to turn Angela Merkel’s front lawn into a graveyard.

The artists want to exhume and rebury deceased migrants in Berlin Photo: Zentrum Für Politische Schönheit

The Berlin-based collective of performance artists and activists Center for Political Beauty (Zentrum Für Politische Schönheit) has launched a highly controversial project, entitled The Dead Are Coming.

The group is currently transporting the bodies of deceased migrants to Berlin and giving them “dignified burials” in cemeteries across the German capital.

According to the artists, the bodies had been inhumanely buried in mass graves or kept in refrigerated warehouses in southern Europe. The Berlin burials have been sanctioned by the migrants’ relatives.

The collective chose Berlin as a burial ground because they claim the “bureaucratic murderers” responsible for the migrants’ deaths are located there.

Tilda Rosenfeld, of the Center for Political Beauty, told artnet News in an email that the group wants to force “the fall of the European Wall.”

“Unfortunately, one cannot bring the dead back to life,” she wrote. “However, as we bring them to the heart of Europe, their final resting place will be our political unrest. An unrest that will make Europe a continent of migration again.”

The group wants to draw attention to the European Union's migration policies Photo: Zentrum Für Politische Schönheit

The group wants to draw attention to the European Union’s migration policies.
Photo via: Zentrum Für Politische Schönheit

The first funeral took place on Tuesday at a cemetery in Gatow, Berlin. A Syrian refugee was laid to rest by an imam, with her relatives in attendance. She had drowned when her boat capsized during the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to southern Europe.

The Center for Political Beauty invited 38 politicians—including German Chancellor Angela Merkel—to attend the service. Their seats remained empty, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The stunt aims to draw attention to the Mediterranean migrant crisis and the Triton initiative, which aims to manage migration in the area under the helm of EU border management agency Frontex.

A rendering of the group's plans for the Chancellor's residence Photo: Zentrum Für Politische Schönheit

A rendering of the group’s plans for the Chancellor’s residence
Photo via: Zentrum Für Politische Schönheit

In light of this, the group is organizing a confrontational protest on Sunday, when they plan to march to the Merkel’s residence with the intention of transforming the lawn into a massive cemetery. A post on the collective’s website urges people to “bring flowers, shovels, pickaxes, and jackhammers!”

The front lawn of the chancellory is an ideal burial place because “there’s plenty of space directly in front of the political decision-makers,” according to the collective. The group has even created digital mock-ups of the chancellery as a graveyard, with a large arch that says “The unknown migrants” across it.

The arch reads "The unknown migrants" Photo: Zentrum Für Politische Schönheit

The arch reads: “The unknown migrants”
Photo via: Zentrum Für Politische Schönheit

“It was the European and especially the German politicians that drafted the restrictive migration laws, ordered the European wall to be built between Bulgaria and Turkey, and therefore forced the desperate migrants on the treacherous route across the Mediterranean,” Rosenfeld explained.

The group previously gained notoriety for stealing a memorial in honor of those who died trying to cross the Berlin Wall, and repositioning it along the EU border.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics