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Pushing the Limits of Artistic Representation

Inciting Memory and Discourse — The Only Way to Go?
  • Stephen C. Feinstein
Chapter

Abstract

The monument at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp near Hanover, Germany contains the inscription, ‘Earth, Conceal Not the Blood Shed on Thee!’. While the monument is a modest obelisk with several languages for remembrance, the message is severe. Unfortunately, the blood of the Holocaust and other genocides has been concealed, and in many cases, visits to concentration camp memorial sites provide a visually pleasant aesthetic of grass and forests, broken by mass graves and monuments. The horror that was once there, documented by the British army in the famous ‘liberation of Belsen’ films, is now cleared of the landscape of death. The memory of what was once there, for those who know about it, may still be strong. But Holocaust survivors, especially former inmates of Belsen, have complained that the current landscape can be misleading, even make one complacent. Worse yet, there is always the threat that the citations about numbers of bodies in the mass graves can be altered, even erased.1

Keywords

Mass Grave Concentration Camp Holocaust Survivor Artistic Representation Holocaust Education 
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Notes

  1. 4.
    Tristan Tzara, ‘Proclamation without Pretension’, in Robert Motherwell (ed.), The Dada Painters and Artists (New York: Wittenborn Schultz, 1952), p.82.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Gad Kaynar, ‘The Holocaust Experience Through Theatrical Profanation,’ in Claude Schumacher (ed.), Staging the Holocaust (London: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p.55.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    Lawrence Langer, Pre-empting the Holocaust (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1998), p.59Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    Serge Klarsfeld, David Olère, A Painter in the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz (Paris: Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1989), p.76.Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    Jerome Witkin, as quoted in Sherry Chayat, Life Lessons: The Art of Jerome Witkin (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1994), p.26. Chayat traces the evolution of this panting from 1979 in her book.Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    Ziva Amishai-Maisels, From Depiction to Interpretation (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1993), p.123.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    Details of this macabre experimentation can be found in Albert F. Rosenberg et al, The Buchenwald Report, tr. David A. Hackett (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995), pp.64, 212, 229.Google Scholar
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    Paulina Kolcynska, ‘A World of Play, Power and Plastic: The Contemporary Polish Art of Zbigniew Libera’, Suitcase 2/1, 2 (1997): 184.Google Scholar
  9. 24.
    For an extensive discussion of the legal ramifications of the lawsuit, see Roxana Marcoci, ‘The Antimonies of Censorship: The Case of Zbigniew Libera’, in Index Contemporary Art and Culture, 3–4 (1998). Bilingual Edition in Swedish and English.Google Scholar
  10. 34.
    Paul Smith, ‘Bruce Weber’s Athletic Fashion’, Arts Magazine 58/10 (Summer 1984): 127, and repeated in Vasif Kortun, Maciej Toporowicz ‘Obsession’, p.2.Google Scholar
  11. 36.
    Alfred Corn, ‘Maciej Toporowicz at Lombard Fried’, Art in America, 84/10 (October 1996): 118.Google Scholar
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    See Richard Rubenstein, After Auschwitz: Radical Theology and Contemporary Judaism (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, Company, Inc., 1966), p.36.Google Scholar
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    For more on this see the excellent work by Robert Proctor, The Nazi War on Cancer (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  14. 44.
    A recent book focusing of German anti-Semitism as ‘Judeophobia’ is by Klaus P. Fischer, The History of An Obsession (New York, Continuum, 1998).Google Scholar
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    Jill Snyder, Impossible Evidence: Contemporary Artists View the Holocaust (Reading, PA: Freedman Gallery, Albright College, 1994), p.6.Google Scholar
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    Picasso as quoted in Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington, Picasso (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988), pp.255–256.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen C. Feinstein

There are no affiliations available

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