Berlin, Germany - It’s not every day that you get to attend a gallery opening at which the guests have to swap their tailored outfits for hazmat suits and cover their designer glasses with UV-protection visors. Yet January 22, 2020, provided just such an experience. 80 people gathered at Berlin’s Reinbeckhallen exhibition center to witness the presentation of the latest work by the city’s artistic duo LOW BROS: “Spectrum. The most dangerous artwork.” – an altar-like construction fashioned out of UV lighting tubes. This event was hosted by Deutsche Krebshilfe in collaboration with ADP (Working Group for Dermatological Prevention) to highlight the risks of using tanning beds. As of January 23, this dangerous work of art will also be freely accessible to the general public.
Malignant Melanoma and Its Victims
The figures are frightening. Every year, around 37,000 people in Germany develop malignant melanoma – the most aggressive form of skin cancer. For some of these people, their regular visits to the tanning salon are the proven trigger. Young people under the age of 35 are particularly at risk. And yet around one in ten Germans uses a tanning bed – in order to tan their skin and seek relaxation. “A tan is never healthy; it’s a stress reaction of the skin. People are damaging their health with each visit to the tanning salon,” explains Professor Eckhard Breitbart, dermatologist and chairman of the ADP. It is precisely to these dangers that the LOW BROS’ art installation seeks to draw attention.
The Artwork and Its Impact
A temple in which an artificial sun hovers above an abstract altar: the installation “Spectrum. The most dangerous artwork.” drew the gaze of the attendees – their UV visors notwithstanding. Though the murmuring of the audience was quite loud at first, the noise suddenly died away completely. “I am moved by this artwork,” said Susanne Klehn, TV presenter and skin cancer prevention ambassador for Deutsche Krebshilfe, after the event. “I myself was exposed to UV radiation in my youth without being aware of the consequences. Getting a tan and boosting my mood felt great at first. But then I contracted a life-threatening malignant melanoma at the age of 27. That’s why I’m passionate about getting young people in particular to stay off tanning beds.”
The Artists and Their Intention
The Berlin-based brothers Christoph and Florin Schmidt – better known as the LOW BROS – have been among Germany’s most happening urban artists for some time now. They never fail to fascinate with their large-scale, sometimes surreal, and gaudy installations. Their latest creation takes a danger unrecognized by many and renders it suddenly tangible.
The two artists explain the intention behind their work. “In our view, a tanning salon is a place of worship where a ritual is repeated. In our ‘Spectrum’ installation, we emphasize the aspect of sun worship and place the focus on the object of worship: a sun constructed out of real UV lighting tubes, from which emanates a genuine threat.”
The artwork was developed in collaboration with HEIMAT Berlin. For Tom Hauser, executive creative director, Spectrum successfully combines various concerns. “Art and the pursuit of beauty are two major issues of our time. ‘Spectrum’ aims to straddle the two, a death star for the 21st century. To view the installation unprotected from the UV rays is to put yourself in grave danger. This is a novel way to raise awareness of the risks of tanning salons and demonstrates how in the quest for aesthetic perfection we often sacrifice more than we bargained for.”
The Event and Its Attendees
The artwork by the LOW BROS seeks to draw attention in spectacular ways to the health risks of visiting tanning salons. And judging by the audience’s reaction, the artists succeeded admirably in this. There was also lively interest in the expert panel discussion following on from the presentation. Here, the participants were able to learn more and come to their own informed conclusion.
Alongside HEIMAT Berlin, both the influencer agency INTERMATE and the communications agency achtung! were involved in bringing the project to life.
You can find further information and data by visiting https://www.unserehaut.de/de/solarium/Mostdangerousartwork.php
Interviews available on request!
May be reprinted free of charge; ADP requests that you send them a copy.