Prominent Jewish rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Monday condemned an Estonian modern art exhibition for making light of the Holocaust, claims the curator denied.
The “My Poland: On Recalling and Forgetting” exhibition in eastern Estonia features eight works of contemporary art — ranging from photography to video to installation — that address the aftermath of World War II in Poland, 70 years on.
One staged video shows a group of naked adults playing tag in the gas chamber of a concentration camp. Another artist restages a photograph from the camp’s 1945 liberation by replacing the survivors with random smiling people.
“While the exhibition attempts to deal with trauma through humor, the result is a sickening mockery of the mass murder of European Jewry and the important ongoing efforts to commemorate the victims’ memory and impart the lessons of the Holocaust,” Efraim Zuroff, director of the Center’s Jerusalem office, said in a statement.
Exhibition curator Rael Artel told AFP that it was not the artists’ intention to make jokes: “These are not humorous works.”
“They (the Wiesenthal Center) have totally missed the point. I think these statements are emotional …
“I was hoping that, maybe through these works, we could have a kind of starting point to approach this very unpleasant and uncomfortable historical event,” she added.
The exhibition runs until March 29 at the Tartu Art Museum in the eastern city of Tartu.