These Are Not My Horses
June 12—July 3, 2015
“…his sense of justice turned him into a brigand and a murderer.” – Michael Kohlhaas, Heinrich von Kleist, trans. Martin Greenberg
On a balmy morning on the 22nd of March, 1540, the horse dealer Hans Kohlhase was broken at the wheel in the center of the public square in Cölln (what is now modern day Berlin). Ten years earlier, Kohlhase, while traveling from Brandenburg to a fair in Leipzig, had his horses stolen by a Saxon nobleman. Kohlhase, a generally well-liked and reputable merchant, first attempted to reason with the noble, but found him unwilling to return his property. He mounted an unsuccessful lawsuit, and finally appealed to the local government, again in vain. In desperation, Kohlhase gathered together a small army of sympathetic citizens and inaugurated a vicious rebellion against the Saxon nobility. For six years, as peasants rioted in solidarity, he rampaged the countryside. Wittenburg burned to the ground. Neither the elector of Brandenburg nor even Martin Luther himself could do much to resolve the situation. Ultimately, surrendering himself to the authorities, Kohlhase was compensated for the illegal seizure of his property, and then summarily executed.
This exhibition gathers together the work of twelve artists. It contemplates the aesthetics of late medieval violence and its modern equivalents.