No! Art: confrontations on betrayal

It was at the expense of good manners.Its an alternate method to engage oneself with memory. The burbling graphic images resurfaced later in etchings, paintings and collages like blood clots moving through hardened arteries. Alternating between the jarring and the provocative under the aegis of representations such as the Doom Show and the Vulgar Show it was an unvarnished representation, the bile of an epoch that displayed the violence and alienation they felt mirrored the bleak reality of modernism; an unfathomable evil marked by an absence of identifiable root, like a fungus that propagates without clear origin.The supposedly pornographic and filthy nature of Boris Lurie’s works and their aesthetic power disturb the ceremony of the solemn and self-righteous national memorial service. Lurie’s art did not follow society’s usual proscribed function of memory. …

Boris Lurie. Entrance. 1946. ---inmates were forced as punishment to position themselves as guards at the entrances to the barracks. In imitation of guardian soldiers, they had to carry buckets instead of helmets on their heads and they were "armed" with birch-brooms and were thereby again degraded and exposed to ridicule. Read More:

…Unlike Himmler, his ultimate superior in the chain of command and a chief architect of the “final solution,” Eichmann never attempted to “negotiate” with the enemy when it became clear that the Nazi cause was lost. He declared, on the contrary, “that he had lived his whole life . . . according to a Kantian definition of duty,” and Arendt noted that “to the surprise of everybody, Eichmann came up with an approximately correct definition of [Kant's] categorical imperative,” though he had “distorted” it in practice. She admitted, moreover, “that Eichmann’s distortion agrees with what he himself called the version of Kant ‘for the household use of the little man,’” the identification of one’s will with “the source” of law, which for Eichmann was the will of the Führer….Read More:

Lurie. Dismemebered Women. 1956. In a certain way these works, in which he depicts women's bodies bizarrely asssembled and deformed, is connected to the Holocaust. Lurie lost his grandmother, mother and one of his sisters; they were murdered by the Nazis or Lettish collaborators. The perishing of important female role models and the effects caused by ghettoization and internment must here be taken into account. This situation impeded the condition for the experience of love and sexuality to the point of making it impossible which is pertinent in considering the connection with the Dismembered Women series. Read More:

It was work that was a rebellion against Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art; a counter movement to what Picasso began with his death informed figures of life-negating rage; the numbness and mind fearing rage. Lurie’s work was life affirming not nihilistic. It was a contestation against dehumanizing influences like fascism, racism and imperialism. In effect, consumerism and its ordinal rankings and status of goods and services which fed the Beast and drugged the participants. A nether world of an imaginary fascination with fascism. Lurie’s work was a kick in the teeth to the line of argument that the darling Pop artists are to be celebrated as great artists not because of their complicity with the marketplace and the art-world, but because they are level-headed and skilful. Lurie never played the game. He abhorred and eschewed the art world of his day and it paid him in kind with utter disregard and shallow criticism. By his own volition, almost all of Lurie’s work remained in his possession at the time of his death.

It was a definite “No!”  to a world that was saying yes, buy more, spend more;  Lurie was intensifying the concept behind the capitalist print-media to an almost unbearable degree by heightening the contrasts, uncovering the politics of the media within a system whose profit-maximization forces profitable advertisements into close proximity to information. Post war stories on the holocaust in the same magazine layout that had ads for fuller hair and stories about meeting “Mr. Right.” Lurie used  such documents and photos for a comprehensive critique of a system that ultimately despises human beings, especially after they cease to be “productive”  and ultimately produces genocidal crimes.

Lurie. Railroad Collage. 1959. ---Kuspit:Lurie’s art was his way of working through or metabolizing his Holocaust-induced trauma, indeed, digesting and excreting it in an endless gesture of expulsion (responsible for the provocative scatological character of much of his art). To use Wilfred Bion’s notion, Lurie could never entirely purge himself of let alone contain his feelings about the Holocaust nor rid himself of the sensations his experience of it aroused in him—its “sensational” effect on him and the “sensational” memories it left in its wake. What Bion calls the breast-container, that which could contain the raw feelings and sensations his near-death experience aroused, allowing him to refine and master them by linking them together into thoughts, and thus comprehend his negative experience of life by turning it into something positive --something that transcended it even as it acknowledged it--was taken away from him--destroyed when his mother and sisters were destroyed. His father survived, but his father was not a loving woman. Read More: image:

…Perhaps the most provocative aspect of Eichmann in Jerusalem is its study of human conscience. The court’s refusal to consider seriously the question of Eichmann’s conscience resulted in its failure to confront what Arendt called “the central moral, legal, and political phenomena of our century.” The Israeli judges understood conscience traditionally as the voice of God or lumen naturale, speaking or shining in every human soul, telling or illuminating the difference between right and wrong, and this simply did not apply in the case of Eichmann. Eichmann had a conscience, and it seems to have “functioned in the expected way” for a few weeks after he became engaged in the transport of Jews, and then, when he heard no voice saying Thou shalt not kill but on the contrary every voice saying Thou shalt kill, “it began to function the other way around.”…Read More:

---documentary photos of the Holocaust, which by now have become "icons," serving as testimony of brutality and mass murder. These are juxtaposed by photos taken from pornographic magazines of the time. One can see this is Lurie's Saturation Painting from 1959-1964, which uses the photo of inmates behind barbed wire, taken in 1945 by Margaret Bourke-White. Under this concept Lurie negates the principle that separates low from high, voluptuous life from mass murder, life from death, sexual obsession from the moral seriousness of history and its victims.It is the same leitmotif that found its way into American pulp fiction and comics post-war invariably created by traumatized war vets. Read More:

Yes, its so much easier to identify oneself with the victims, heartfelt expressions of empathy being a numbingly comfortable way of not having to deal with the perpetrators. Solidarity with the victims is the comfortable solution for the surviving perpetrators and their descendants. Instead of documenting the hundred-thousand-fold involvement of 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, absolved with a few token totems.

Lurie. 1971.---A major problem for many with Lurie's work is that he does not fit the conventional notion of victim, conforming to expectations. Viewers are not comfortable with facing work by an "angry Jew." It is much easier to dismiss the need to explore the socio-political implications of a work by calling it "distasteful." Only once it is clear to the viewer what kind of tensions and personal hardship led to these images, can a connection to them be established. People expect to be conveyed the notion that the experience of a forme

ncentration camp survivor's art is supposed to have a cathartic effect. Boris Lurie's work and NO!art in general does not allow for this emotional catharsis and atonement and thus leads to the accusation that it tries to denigrate the victims of the Holocaust. Read More:

…Eichmann was not stupid; he knew but did not think what he was doing, not in the past and not in Jerusalem. He contradicted himself constantly, but he did not lie; his conscience did not bother him; and he did not suffer from remorse: “He knew that what he had once called his duty was now called a crime, and he accepted this new code of judgment as if it were nothing but another language rule”…The “Epilogue” to Eichmann in Jerusalem deals with the legality of the Jerusalem trial, which for the most part Arendt defended, but she thought it necessary to clarify what the Israeli court’s judgment left obscure. Eichmann was guilty of “an attack upon human diversity as such, that is, upon a characteristic of the ‘human status’ without which the very words ‘mankind’ or ‘humanity’ would be devoid of meaning.” Arendt recognized in Eichmann, who struck her as “not even strange” (nicht einmal unheimlich) , the exemplary criminal capable of committing “the new crime, the crime against humanity.” He “supported and carried out” the physical destruction of European Jewry and would have done the same for any group or anyone at all whom a power higher than himself had decreed unfit to live. Read More:

Eichmann trial. 1961. Edward S. Hermann:In building weapons, contractors and the Pentagon have become quite sophisticated in spreading business over many states, to reach a critical mass of jobs, profits and legislators/media by congressional district to maximize the lobbying base for funding. Jobs are jobs, whether building schools or Peacekeeper Missiles or cutting down thousand-year-old redwood trees. I was slightly nauseated during the Vietnam War era by Boeing ads soliciting workers for its helicopter plant, touting itself as an "equal opportunity employer (EOE)." Maybe the Dachau camp management was also an EOE, for jobs that needed to be done and for which there was an effective demand. Read More: image:

—Capitalism-Fascism, this is not only the connection between Hugenberg, IG Farben and Auschwitz. It also consists of the experiences of community, of happy sensuality and accomplished collective change, elements that German fascism knew how to exploit. The point is that
Germany for most Germans was not a concentration camp. Just a few years ago the approach of this exhibition would have been criticized as minimizing and palliative, by those who term them selves antifascists. In the mean-time things have changed. Questions about the everyday of the  Third Reich, about the subjective side of the system, about the tolerating of the system, about the approval and enthusiasm, have not only become admissible, but absolutely necessary. And when one traces these experiences, one discovers the eerie connection between violence and desires, wishes and fantasies, which the fascist system managed to capture and stage in pseudo-real fulfillment.” Read More:
Manfred Zach:“Nobody in Germany wanted to be reminded of the tertium imperium after it went up in smoke and  flames. Everything was smoke, smoke from crematories, and smoke from ruins. A giant collective smoke-sacrifice, after whose burnout the people who lighted the fire joined the victims who they only recently had treated like animals. The indistinguishable ashes of the dead as catharsis for the living: what an elegant way to leave the disgusting event behind! How simple, how perfect, how fatefully definite.” Read More:

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