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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 12:38 GMT
Holocaust-related art condemned
Art from the Mirroring Evil exhibition
Zugzwang: Photos of Hitler and Duchamp fill a room
Jewish leaders and Nazi death camp survivors have denounced as obscene an exhibition of Holocaust-related art in New York.

Among the items on show at the city's Jewish Museum are sculptures of the infamous concentration camp doctor Joseph Mengele.

The exhibition, entitled Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art, also includes a children's Lego building set with a picture of a concentration camp on the cover.

In another work, a self-portrait of the aritst holding a soft drink is inserted into a photo of emaciated Jews at a camp.

Art from the Mirroring Evil exhibition
Building blocks of horror: A Nazi-themed Lego set

An installation entitled Zugzwang, by Rudolf Herz, consists of a room lined with photographic images of Adolf Hitler and conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp.

"Zugzwang" - a German word - is the term in chess for a position in which a player is obliged to move but cannot do so without disadvantage.

"Some of the images used by the artist basically violate good taste," said Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

"Even from an aesthetic point of view, forgetting about the moral point of's objectionable - it's obscene."

That is the equivalent for Holocaust survivors and their families of placing a bust of Osama Bin Laden at Ground Zero

Menachem Rosensaft

In Washington, the head of the International Network of Children of Holocaust Survivors condemned the Mengele sculptures.

"The Jewish Museum is now placing on a pedestal a bust of the individual who brutalised my mother and murdered my aunt," Menachem Rosensaft said.

Mr Rosensaft equated exhibiting the sculptures with erecting a bust of Osama bin Laden at New York's ground zero, where the World Trade Center's twin towers once stood.

Saudi dissident Bin Laden is blamed for the aeroplane attacks that destroyed the building on 11 September last year.

The exhibition was "offensive", a "desecration" and an unconscionable "glorification of evil", he said.

These artists make us look at the perpetrators, make us look at the evil that's still out in the world.

Norman Kleeblatt

But museum officials said the show was meant to inspire younger generations to think about the brutality of the camps.

"We know this work is challenging - it's deliberately challenging," a spokeswoman said. "It's deliberately provocative."

"The artist wants you to think, just like political art wants you to think," she said.

Mirroring Evil's curator, Norman Kleeblatt, said the show was giving vent to the voice of a new generation.

That new generation, he said, no longer needed to create "some kind of redemption out of the terror and extermination".

"Rather, these artists make us look at the perpetrators, make us look at the evil that's still out in the world."

At least once camp survivor agreed.

Fanya Gottesfeld Heller said of the exhibition: "It did help me to see that evil is still in us."

See also:

04 Mar 02 | UK
Holocaust denier bankrupt
27 Jan 02 | England
Thousands gather for Holocaust Day
20 Sep 00 | UK
Art's shock treatment
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