traces of wiped-out existences

how is holocaust art received in the land “of the perpetrators”? Well that depends…

In a way, its the politics of remembrance and memory.Or at least the problematics.  Memory is often the theme with the focus not on what is handed down, but how. This, as well as the ideological construction of history and its pruning, shaping and elimination. Of course, that does not preclude a discussion about whether the holocaust can be represented at all, since it falls into a zone at “the limits of representation. ” However, there is an impossibility of access to Holocaust experience, so a work of art usually  focuses on the way this experience is constructed for later generations exclusively through representation. The work is necessarily diffused and allusive because diffusion and allusion are the conditions of contemporary Holocaust consciousness, pervaded by the pressures of contemporary concerns.

---Their idea was to pave one kilometre of the German Autobahn with cobblestones. The motorists would be forced to slow down from 130 km/hour to 30 km/hour. A large road-sign would announce the paved kilometre as "Memorial for the Mur290 dered Jews of Europe." Matz and Herz suggested to sell the piece of land in Berlin designated for the Memorial and to set up a foundation with the money which would aid persecuted minorities. An important aspect of this project is that it can not be seized for political purposes, for it could host no exonerative rituals. The idea of the paved kilometre is a provocation, for it connects a symbol of Germany's progress and efficiency (Autobahn) with the Holocaust....---Read More: image:

In any event, what has to be  addressed is the anxiety of critique, imbued with a fear of aesthetization which can invoke a reinforcing of the impulses and complicity which led to the event.Ultimately, any effort has to explicitly rejects the single most haunting and influential critique of beauty in Holocaust representation, which underlies all such critiques, which is the interdict against aestheticization and exploitation made by Theodor Adorno in his post war assertion, that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” The power of Adorno’s statement still retains its force, given the struggle between profound understanding and the “holocaust industry” which seems to serve broader political, social and economic purposes. What were originally called “atrocity photos” has morphed into a full-fledged field of study.

--- the harburg monument against war and fascism for peace harburg :: jochen gerz & esther shalev-gerz The monument is comprised of a 12m column, plated in lead and accompanied by a steel stylus, so one can inscribed into the soft lead. A plaque in several languages writes: We invite the citizens of Harburg, and visitors to the town, to add their names to ours. In doing so, we commit ourselves to remaining vigilant. As more and more names cover this 12m tall lead column, it will gradually be lowered into the ground. One day, it will have disappeared completely, and the site of the Harburg monument against Fascism will be empty. In the end, it is only we ourselves who can rise against injustice. The monument was lowered, in 5 ft increments, taking 7 years to completely enter the ground. The only thing to remain is a plaque, marking the void of what once was there. The dead, like a memory and parralleling with the concept of this monument, disappears and all that is left is a burial stone. In the end, the void and disappearance of the monument makes a greater statement then the monument itself. Made of lead, it is soft, malleable, and changed with each visitor. As visitors inscribe their names and messages, the column literally changes over time, testifying of past violence, but also bringing it to the present, and representing the violence and anger that is present in the community now.---Read More:

There is no shortage of artistic works that deal with and commemorate the deportation and extermination of human beings committed by the German National Socialist State. These type of monuments can be seen in many cities and their function is often limited in proving that the “darkest chapter” of German history is not forgotten.A kind of self-pious forgiveness that ingeniously avoids central issues.Akin to a social criticism of mass society without a critique on the consumerism, status and distinction which drives it. The victims are still commodities.So, there is a conventional, established narrative ritual by which a self-prescribed national mourning seizes upon the murdered victims.Any holocaust art of aesthetic power which disrupts the ceremony of this artificial solemnity somewhat self-serving national memorial service is marginalized and disparaged through any number of pretexts.

---Christian Boltanski’s Monuments series explores the themes of loss and memory. Boltanski transforms ephemeral and commercial materials, giving a work like Monument (Odessa) the aura of an altar that flirts at the boundaries between the anonymous and the identifiable, the sentimental and the tragic. This installation memorializes unknown persons — nameless individuals who may have been victims of the Holocaust. In so doing, it also questions the meanings the viewer brings to photographic documents. Christian Boltanski (French, b. 1944) Monument (Odessa), 1989–2003---Read More:

So, both victims and perpetrators can play to the tune of the holocaust industry. The norm then takes the form of solidarity with the victims. Its a comfortable and neat solution for the surviving perpetrators and their descendants. Instead of documenting the manifest, willing and active involvement of all levels of German society, Germans as offenders;the grief that is truly felt by only a few people in Germany, is turned into a lie on the level of a national declaration….

---“Moreover, indexical objects such as clothing and photographs represent what Boltanski terms ‘small memory’, the sort of object which distinguishes people’s lives from each other’s and harbours memory but which is lost with each individual death. But Boltanski is also aware of ‘large memory’, and simultaneously translates the specificity of the clothes having been worn by a particular person into a larger abstraction on the themes of death and memory. The Canada installations are typical of such large-scale overwhelming number of clothes (six thousand) are crowded onto the gallery walls, on top of one another in tiers and lit at regular intervals from above by the sort of unrelenting institutional lamps associated with offices and hospitals. Significantly, ‘Canada’ was the name given by the Nazis to the warehouses in which items of clothing belonging to the victims of the gas chambers at Auschwitz were collected and sorted. For me, six thousand representatives of small memories not only add up to a much larger one but provide a way of articulating an aspect of the Nazi Holocaust that cannot easily be told at an individual level.” (Joan Gibbons) Read More:

…A bit similar to the monuments in France in honor of Jean Moulin and the resistance; where a few good men seems to have enviably broad shoulders to carry the guilt of a complicit nation. Hence, with memorials to a rather banal “un-laudable” era of Germany, a bureaucratically organized and industrially executed mass murder, can be entombed by being be laid to rest in brick or concrete. All the better to  repress unsavory or uncomfortable parts of the past in favor of a more sanitized portrayal.

A man passes a wallpaper piece displaying portraits of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and French artist Marcel Duchamp entitled "Zugzwang" from the German artist Rudolf Herz at the

bition "Covering the wall, ...Read More:

So what tends to happen is victors being blended with the victims. Like Ronald Reagan going to Bergen-Belsen and then Bitburg cemetery which contained  Waffen SS graves.

---Gunter Demnig tracks down history on the spot by inserting stones into the pavement in front of houses formerly inhabited by Jews. The stones bear inscriptions that refer to the crimes committed by the Nazis. With a coloured line extending through downtown Cologne, he marked the exact route on which 1000 Roma and Sinti in 1940 were marched to the holding-camp, proving that segregation, deportation and extermination began not in secret, but in public.----Read More: image:


Read More:
Boltanski deals in his impressive somber and archive-like installations with the legacies and the  remaining traces of wiped out existences. Death is in Boltanski’s works the point of departure for his exploration of life, for the present without past is unthinkable. Thereby he stresses fundamentally that his art is not an art that “has the Holocaust as a theme or explains it, but rather it is art which explains itself because
the Holocaust existed. It is an art that follows it.” Read More:

Boris Lurie. Rumbula. 1972. Michel Foucault:This is why it makes little difference when the first voice of madness insinuated itself into Nietzsche's pride, into Van Gogh's humility. There is no madness except as the final instant of the work of art- the work endlessly drives madness to its limits; inhere there (288) is a work of art, there is no madness; and yet madness is contemporary with the work of art, since it inaugurates the time of its truth. The moment when, together, the work of art and madness are born and fulfilled is the beginning of the time when the world finds itself arraigned by that work of art and responsible before it for what it is. Ruse and new triumph of madness: the world that thought to measure and justify madness through psychol-ogy must justify itself before madness, since in its struggles and agonies it measures itself by the excess of works like those of Nietzsche, of Van Gogh, of Artaud. And nothing in itself, especially not what it can know of madness, as-sures the world that it is justified by such works of madness. Read More: image:

This entry was posted in Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Modern Arts/Craft, Visual Art/Sculpture/etc. and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>