Works of art, especially representative portraits, are also used during social conflict. In June 2009 during the “nationwide education strike”, the institution of the university at large was put in the pillory: tuition fees, the Bologna process, the Excellence Initiative and inadequate democracy. On the 18th of June, a group of demonstrators entered the auditorium (Aula) of the University of Göttingen and attacked several busts, including the plaster casting of the mathematician David Hilbert (1862-1943). It was sprayed with paint, knocked off its pedestal and thrown out of a window. An act of vandalism that can be perceived as institutional critique. The fact that it was David Hilbert of all people who got caught up in these riots, was likely purely arbitrary. This makes it all the more clear that institutional forms of representation, beyond their content, provide a target for criticism.

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