Statement by Artur Żmijewski

The campaign by Czech artist Martin Zet to collect as many copies of Thilo Sarrazin’s book Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany Does Away With Itself) as possible has begun. Now Sarrazin’s ideas have received a really direct answer. In confrontation with his hate speech, which is cloaked in rational formulas and statistics, Zet has proposed to materially remove the books from our shelves and to transform it—first into art installation, and later, when the Biennale is finished, into something else. The decision as to how the books will be used will be taken collectively by the public opinion, as Zet promised. My own proposal would be to send the books back to the publishing house, which has just printed a new paperback edition. Apparently the 1.3 million copies already sold were not enough, and now we have a second edition in bookstores all over the country. Sarrazin’s doubtful ideas seem to be big business; the total cover price of all books sold so far is around 30 million Euro.


Other people will have other fantasies about what we could do with the books.


The book itself, as a pile of paper, is innocent—but it is used by Sarrazin to transfer his message. The project by Zet, "Deutschland schafft es ab" (Germany gets rid of it) is about working with the book as material object, which gives us the opportunity to operate in reality, not only to be stuck on the level of speculation and weak criticism. The voting has started—the similarity to election campaigns is obvious—focusing on the people and their choices. Shouldn't we rather engage with Zet’s proposal than those of Sarrazin? It's better to think that the specific content of the book is not useful, than to think—as Sarrazin does—that some people are not useful.


We are together with others in the cultural field—the Berlin Biennale has friends—and other cultural institutions who have decided to take part in the campaign, as well as private and individual collecting points that contribute to the collection drive. We also have a big storage space here at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, so copies of the book can be sent directly here by regular mail.


The media reaction to Zet’s proposal created a surprising atmosphere in which people started to be afraid of joining his pro-tolerant campaign.


It's not a game—to be a serious participant of Zet’s action, I also have to take my Sarrazin down from the shelf and donate it to the campaign. I will do it right now with my own copy.


Artur Żmijewski



  1. Emma

    I am interested in the performative debate that is developing around Martin Zet’s project and am also very interested in knowing how many copies of the book has been received so far?

10th Berlin Biennale