kamp: a day in the life

All acts of reconstruction in which what saves the meaning, is its necessary incompletion. Like Da Vinci never quite finishing a work, or more particularly, unable to complete Jesus’s face in The Last Supper frescoe.  The holocaust, despite what Art Spiegelman has called “holo-fatigue” , the sentimental streaks of Schindler’s lists, and the grubby death cash swindling underlying events like March of The Living, according to Norman Finkelstein in his Holocaust Industry, is, an implicitly ongoing and unfinished subject. It is a symbol of perennial suffering and what could be termed the death drive,which may be why the holocaust has an unconscious grip on reaching into some unsettling corners of the psyche.

In spite of it being as well  a particular historical event, it is the “final solution” to the age old “Jewish problem”. Yet one with no  final solution to the problem of its meaning. Increasingly more historical material can be found and added to the oeuvre, suggesting that the holocaust is a work in perpetual process, eventually poking above the clouds like a Babel tower. There is always more suffering to  acknowledge, more futility, more rage to feel and feed  an ever-expanding cosmos of bleakness, variations on nihilism; little and large victories of an all encompassing negativity known by the name of death. All our processes of disavowal seem to collapse in the absence of emotional payoff, no release or catharsis from this death dividend. No packaged closure…

---with every shape we pull out of the darkness, we make possible knowledge and political change, and we do this through the violence of making impossible other shapes and other knowledges. We gain only by losing. What saves meaning is its necessary incompletion, and it is this incompletion that is underlined by the social frame of the aesthetic. Because every interpretation, every ounce of knowledge, is available to deconstruction and critique, there is always the possibility for new knowledge. But in the “everyday” world—the world we pretend has nothing to do with theater—we carry forward with the belief that what we know is true, is not subjective and transcendental and, if not eternal, at least “the way things are today.” When we doubt, we go to art. When we want nothing to do with doubt, we go to science. Read More:http://ofwhichispeak.blogspot.com/ image:http://holocaustvisualarchive.wordpress.com/category/contemporary-art/

For this reason, one should turn around the standard notion of holocaust as the historical actualization of “radical (or, rather, diabolical) Evil”: Auschwitz is the ultimate argument AGAINST the romanticized notion of “diabolical Evil,” of the evil hero who elevates Evil into an a priori principle. As Hannah Arendt was right to emphasize, the unbearable horror of Auschwitz resides in the fact that its perpetrators were NOT Byronesque figures who asserted, like Milton’s Satan, “Let Evil be my Good!” – the true cause for alarm resides in the unbridgeable GAP between the horror of what went on and the “human, all too human” character of its perpetrators. Read More:http://www.lacan.com/zizlovevigilantes.html

Theodor Adorno: “The inability to identify with others was unquestionably the most important psychological condition for the fact that something like Auschwitz could have occurred in the midst of more or less civilised and innocent people. What is called fellow travelling was primarily business interest: one pursues one’s own advantage before all else, and simply not to endanger oneself, does not talk too much. That is a general law of the status quo….

---You are watching details from the models, being filmed and animated by the crew of three persons. The whole performance consists of a series of scenes from different parts of the model, with large groups of people (models of prisoners or guards) being moved around (like extras in a filmshot), and the focus shifts between overview of the whole camp to close-up actions showed on the screen. Since everything is miniature, any camera movement is possible: slow horisontal movements, spectacular crane shots, combined with effective lighting. It is as watching a film and seeing the making of it at the same time, without it ever becoming gimmicky. There is no text, only the sound from the camp: environmental sounds recorded in Auschwitz mixed with live sounds from the action on stage. The sound is very important for both focusing on the particular details but also for linking the video projection with what is happening on stage: You never loose the connection between details (filmed) and the whole model of the camp.... It´s a dark piece, but it avoids becoming sentimental (maybe because there is no music or text?), thus becoming a very effective way of describing what happened in Auschwitz.--- Read More:http://hcgilje.wordpress.com/2008/11/18/hotel-modern-kamp/

The silence under the terror was only its consequence. The coldness of the societal monad, the isolated competitor, was the precondition, as indifference to the fate of others, for the fact that only very few people reacted. The torturers know this, and they put it to test ever anew . . .

…Among the insights of Freud that truly extend even into culture and sociology, one of the most profound seems to me to be that civilization itself produces anti-civilization and increasingly reinforces it. His writings Civilization and its Discontents and Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego deserve The widest possible diffusion, especially in connection with Auschwitz. If barbarism itself is inscribed within the principle of civilization, then there is something desperate in the attempt to rise up against it. Any reflection on the means to prevent the recurrence of Auschwitz is darkened by the thought that this desperation must be made conscious to people, lest they give way to idealistic platitudes….

---Seems like covering the topic of Auschwitz in ‘Kamp’ had stronger effect with puppets and big screens, instead of acting… People find hard to comprehend the fact of evilness… Atrocities and killings are happening now in this very moment in Africa, Asia… but we are never enough prepared for those facts… PK: I think it’s good to have different ways of telling. As preparations for Kamp we were watching documentaries with interviews of the survivors. I think that’s the best way of telling… just listen to the stories by people who were there. That’s really authentic, but it’s good to have other ways to complete the whole image. There is not one way, the best way of showing that. I think, with the testimony you can get the story from really the first source. It’s very very good to try to show it with images, documentaries or, like us, with puppets. It’s good to have these different ways of going around the theme.--- Read More:http://www.body-pixel.com/2009/10/27/interview-with-hotel-modern-theatre-vjs-on-brutal-themes/

…It is by no means clear precisely how the fetishization of technology establishes itself within the individual psychology of particular people, or where the threshold lies between a rational relationship to technology and the over-valuation that finally leads to the point where one who cleverly devises a train system that brings the victims to Auschwitz as quickly and smoothly as possible forgets about what happens to them there. With this type, who tends to fetishize technology, we are concerned—baldly put, with people who cannot love. This is not meant to be sentimental or moralistic but rather describes a deficient libidinal relationship to other persons. Those people are thoroughly cold; deep within themselves they must deny the possibility of love, must withdraw their love from other people initially, before it can even unfold. And whatever of the ability to love somehow survives in them they must expend on devices. Those prejudiced, authoritarian characters whom we examined at Berkeley in the Authoritarian Personality, provided us with much proof of this. A test subject—the expression itself already comes from reified consciousness—said of himself: “I like nice equipment” [Ich habe hübsche Ausstattungen, hübsche Apparaturen gern], 14 completely indifferent about what equipment it was. His love was absorbed by things, machines as such. The alarming thing about this—alarming, because it can seem so hopeless to combat it—is that this trend goes hand in hand with that of the entire civilization….Read More:http://paep.ca/



---What we do see, though, is the camp as its own aesthetic creation. By seeing the camp as a landscape—and by using a dramaturgical structure that resembles, though because of its reliance on minimal narrative does not fulfill, a Steinein/Wilsonian landscape—we are able to consider that this, too, was something that was made, as all architectural products are made. We are able to enter the consciousness of a concentration camp architect and consider what aesthetic choices were made here—in what way was this camp designed so as to resist appreciation as art (unlike, say, the Reichstag)? Who was the intended “audience” for the camp? The prisoners? The Nazi soldiers? Hitler? The German volk? Suspicious international neighbors whom the Nazis need to 1) ignore the camps, and 2) if they cannot ignore them, to see them as working cities that are best left alone? The camp, of course, negotiates all these audiences in their aesthetic design. But by being aware of the camp as a created thing, we become aware of the relationship between more familiar acts of creation and the foreign-ness of the concentration camp. At one point in the event I found myself thinking, “Look how old and un-advanced the technology of this place is. Imagine what we could do today. Think of how much sleeker, more efficient, and more sterile would be a concentration camp made today.”--- Read More:http://ofwhichispeak.blogspot.com/

The performance reveals imagined scenes from life at Auschwitz. Prisoners sweep, shovel rocks, line up to be counted, fall out of the trains. They are beaten, executed, worked to death, directed into the gas chambers. There is no dialogue in the piece only some sound effects.

It was the publication in 1986 of “Maus,” Art Spiegelman’s acclaimed graphic novel, in which Jews were portrayed as mice and Nazis as cats, which helped to pave the way for Holocaust stories to be told in genres that once might have been seen as too idiosyncratic or irreverent – writes Herman Helle of “New York Times”.

After a critically acclaimed 2001 show about World War I that featured miniature figures, Hotel Modern team realized that it could approach Auschwitz in a similar way as they possess a medium which have a special way of telling the war theme.

“It works – writes Ian Buruma on “The New York Review of Books Blog”. I think, precisely because of the artificiality, the stylization of the performance. The details evoke reality, often to horrifying effect, without trying to mimic it. Puppets can seem more real than actors, because they leave more to our imagination. Stripped of his striped camp garb, the naked puppet becomes transparent, as he is pushed into the gas chamber with the others, looking terrifyingly vulnerable. No dialogue or action is needed to illustrate the atrocity of the scene. Actors can never reenact what happened in a place like Auschwitz, at least not realistically, because what happened cannot be recreated. The more we aim for a realistic portrayal of such extreme violence, the more likely we are to produce a form of kitsch.” Read More:http://uczyc-sie-z-historii.pl/en/articles/view/66

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