In socio critical terms, the emphasis is always to focus on the victims.Perhaps our relation to them. All is enhanced and detracted by the problematics of memory. Very little stares squarely at the locus of the problem which is to transform the existing narrative as commodity into a critique of the financial/market based system that almost comprehensively rules our lives. Bizarrely, symbols of power and oppression are weaved into a cathartic experience that ultimately numbs the senses. The recent movies The Help and Sarah’s Key are good examples.
Sarah’s key is a holocaust based drama covering the French internment of Jews in 1942 in the Velodrome d’Hiver. Sarah’s apartment was taken over by a journalist’s in-laws and the plot moves back between the bravery of the child and the domestic drama set in the present. It’s all very well executed, moving in the right emotional triggers, but devoid of any broader understanding of the economic contexts these atrocities took place ultimately place the film as more holocaust fodder in the victim industry. The key is obviously more about turning a key than about opening a door to one’s future. But the future laden with a rupture from the past, disconnected from continuity becomes a sham product, disposable. It has to be questioned whether film’s like Sarah’s Key are guilty of child exploitation and sexualization whether consciously or not in its exposure to juvenile sadism.
But in representations like Sarah’s Key the anger is muted and neutralized. The antithesis to the sanitization would be the art of a Boris Lurie. With Lurie, an insertion of imagery pertaining to the Holocaust is integrated into a current attack on the Western capitalist system that hegemonically follows its own narrative in playing a leading role in world politics. What this means, is a jarring contradiction when the viewer is faced with non-aesthetic content devoid and with an antipathy towards memory and a lack of heroization of victims and of sorrow. Rather, when dealing with signs and a coded visual language that connects death camps, slave labor camps and other genocides, the imagery of the angry victim, defiant and provocative offends most sensibilities. Sarah’s key is about a door into a previously forbidden place: acceptance and actor into the mainstream culture while Lurie may want to dynamite the whole building.
In order to represent the sickening excesses of such atrocious politics, Lurie grouped into his art photographs and headlines dealing with the Holocaust, A-Bombs bombs on Japan as well as conflicts triggered by imperial and colonial interests. His art does make one cynical about the Arab Spring and how the heavy lifters will be shunted aside, and the aims of Western elites can be continually reinvented to coalesce into the accepted norms of individuality, liberty, etc.
Thus, the power of Lurie’s work is an extraction from the exclusive context of the category of “art and Holocaust.” Most viewers to a holocaust memorial, or films like Help or Sarah are geared emotionally to having a very emotional experience, a somewhat perverse kind of pleasure, even a joy in a cleansing undertaking as if part of a confessional ritual. So, the experience of the concentration camp is supposed to have a hint of the vicarious and cathartic; the emotions of the visitor or viewer and not the structural basis which produces the events.
Almost all holocaust memorials and related cinema, try to evoke emotional capital from the work. Boris Lurie’s art and that of the NO!art movement in general of which he was a key figure, do not permit this emotional catharsis, this seduction of the senses and superficial atonement. Ironically, this results in accusations of denigration of holocaust victims.
…It is well documented that Pitt, the daughter of a Polish Jewish mother and German father, survived the Stutthof concentration camp during the second world war. Now a US film-making team has
ealed that prior to her death, the Hammer horror favourite collaborated on an animated short film about her experiences. Pitt provided voiceover narration for Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest, working with twice Academy award-nominated film-maker Bill Plympton, director and co-producer Kevin Sean Michaels and a 10-year-old animator, Perry Chen….
“She remained tortured by the horrors of her childhood Holocaust experiences until her sudden death,” said the film’s producer, Dr Jud Newborn, the film’s co-writer, co-producer and historical adviser. “She never exploited or emphasised them in any of her work or public persona, only mentioning them in her memoir long after her film career had waned.”
After her war-time experiences, Pitt lived in east Berlin in the 1950s, eventually escaping by diving into the Spree river in an attempt to flee to the west. She was rescued by an American soldier who took her, eventually, to California, where they married. She spent time in both Europe and the US in the 1960s following the breakdown of her marriage as she sought a career in film, but eventually found fame in her early 30s in a brace of salacious horrors, The Vampire Lovers (1970) and Countess Dracula (1971), for the London-based company Hammer. Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/nov/25/ingrid-pitt-film-concentration-camp
Lurie’s art defies the very act of acquiescence – the numbing and succumbing to the expectations and demands of the marketplace at the expense of crystallizing the form of newly emerging archetype that makes the past obsolete but not forgotten.And this crying out against a system even as the components deny their role in greasing its greedy wheels makes NO! the ultimate affirmation — the impassioned commitment to an authentic art for the 21st century that can unify the opposites into a neo-Joycean divinely inspired YES! Read More:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-paul-streitfeld/revolution-in-the-avanteg_b_868378.html
Cornel West: In the way in which our culture of consumption has promoted an addiction to stimulation – one that puts a premium on packaged and commodified stimulation. the market does this to convince us that our consumption keeps oiling the economy for it to reproduce itself. But the effect of this addiction to stimulation is an undermining, a waning of our ability for qualitatively rich relationships…market moralities and mentalities– fueled by economic imperatives to make a profit at nearly any cost– yield unprecedented levels of loneliness, isolation, and sadness. And our public life lies in shambles, shot through with icy cynicism and paralyzing pessimism. To put it bluntly, beneath the record-breaking stock markets on Wall Street and bipartisan budget-balancing deals in the white house lurk ominous clouds of despair across this nation..Prophetic pragmatism attempts to keep alive the sense of alternative ways of life and of struggle based on the best of the past. In this sense, the praxis of prophetic pragmatism is tragic action with revolutionary intent, usually reformist consequences and always visionary outlook.” – cornel west
Donald Kuspit:However understood, firsthand esthetic experience is precluded by the secondhand experience of art in reproduction, whether electronically advanced or old-fashioned mechanical reproduction. If the art work is the privileged site of esthetic experience, or at least its repository and trace — the social amber in which it is preserved, the expressive space that contains it — as the quoted thinkers suggest, then its reproduction de-privileges esthetic experience along with it. Reproduction challenges and mocks the skill that went into its making — especially if it was made by hand and eye and not simply dependent on its concept and ideology for credibility — by implying that its own technology is superior to the techniques that inform the work’s artistry.
Reproduction trumps art by appropriating it wholesale — digesting it until it is a shadow of itself. Even in digital art the technology seems to usurp the place of the art. Reproduction levels its sensuality and weakens its emotional effect, subverting its vitalizing evocative power, and making it seem less intelligent than it is, and with that de-estheticizes it, that is, renders it useless as a means to the end of esthetic experience. Paradoxical as it may seem, reproduction, which claims to serve memory, leads us to forget what is most memorable — experientially real — about the art by reducing it to an appearance. The real work is superseded by its cannibalization in reproduction.
Esthetic experience is rare and demanding, for it involves relentless intensification of experience, leading to the dialectical transfiguration and transcendence of ordinary experience. What Mondrian called “man’s drive toward intensification”(7) drives creativity and climaxes in esthetic experience. Reproduction de-intensifies and de-transcendentalizes the art work by reducing it to an ordinary object — banalizing it into another social phenomenon by stripping it of esthetic quality. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/art-and-capitalist-spectacle2-8-11.asp