Joy Divisions

Thursday, June 4th 2009  |  2 to 7:30pm
Columbus Metropolitan Library  |  96 S. Grant Street  |  Downtown Columbus Ohio

Joy Divisions


Curated by Eva Ball, this exhibition and outdoor listening party explores the band Joy Division and the Nazi sex slave camp of the same name.

Evidence suggests that between 1942 and 1945, Auschwitz and at least nine other Nazi concentration camps contained sex slave divisions, used by the government to reward both Nazi soldiers and cooperative non-Jewish inmates. The 1955 novella, The House of Dolls, graphically depicts life in one of these divisions, called Freudenabteilung or Joy Division.

Over twenty years after the novella was first published, Bernard Sumner, keyboardist and guitarist of the Manchester band Warsaw, read the book and changed the name of the band to Joy Division. While bassist Peter Hook and Sumner later admitted to being intrigued by fascism at the time, Morris (drums) argued that accusations of neo-Nazi sympathies merely provoked the band "to keep on doing it, because that's the kind of people we are." The post-punk visionaries played their first show as Joy Division on January 25th, 1978.

Van Gallery

Housed on the grounds of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Joy Divisions exists in three simultaneous layers. The first being the listening party: a DJ presentation of  all the released Joy Division music and a few rarities, totaling 5.5 hours of music. Passers-by are invited to stop by, sit on the grass, and listen. The next layer is the visual component of the exhibition. Mark Van Fleet's Van Gallery will be situated between the listening party and the Library's iconic fountain topped with a bronze sculpture of the forever young Pan. The Van Gallery houses the works of 13 artists, who were invited by Eva Ball to create works that explore the two Joy Divisions. The final layer is a co-authored catalog that not only discusses the artwork in the exhibition, but also delves deeper into the topic as a whole. Writings include, a brief history of sex slavery in the 21st century, Nazi imagery in post-punk fashion, the power of witnessing, among others. The catalog will be available for perusal during the exhibition, for sale, and as part of the library's permanent collection.

The exhibition is free, open to all and includes dinner at 6:30pm.

Artists and writers included in the exhibition are: Mark Harris, Carmel Buckley, Hannah Barnes, Ryan Agnew, Sarah Bernat, Paul Simmons, Dan Olsen, Jen Burton, Tina Matthews, Ian Ruffino, Laura Bratigan, Grant LaValley, Chad Shepherd, Michael Stickrod, Nick Crane, Erica Bailey, Eva Ball, Josh Erb, Jen Burton, Wes Flexner, and Marshall Barnes.

Plans are in the works to tour Joy Divisions at several libraries in the Midwestern and Eastern US, stops will include, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn.



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After Party

Following the exhibit there will an afterparty at Skylab Gallery, 57 E. Gay Street, just blocks from the Colmbus Metropolitan Library. Slated to start at 9pm, this event will showcase a variety of music inspired by Joy Divisions. This event is not only a celebration, but also a fundraiser to offset some of the costs associated with the exhibit, including food (hundreds of people have been invited including homeless shelters) and artists' fees.


Anna Ranger: Pet Shop Boys love West End Girls, but can't commit.

Tommy Jay: Everything perfect in the world and Transmission.

Ginger Fetus: Everything that is brand new except the primordial love songs.

Jam Division: Some call it Dub, others call it Joy Division covers.

Dj Detox: A genius who just dreams of spinning at a rave that Bobby Brown, Throbbing Gristle, Miss Tony and Martin Weinland attend, meanwhile planning the perfect goth/pop/hiphop dance party.

Joy Divisions is generously supported by Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC), OSU Urban Arts Space, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Van Gallery, Skylab Gallery, Nathan Ober of P2, Ohio Art League, Sign-a-Rama Downtown, Cotters, Due Amici, Barrio, Pattycake Vegan Bakery, and Kroger.