Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our Struggle to Never Forget

היום שנים עשר יום שהם שבוע אחד
וחמשה ימים בעמר
Today is the twelfth day, making one week
and five days of the omer
חוד שבגבורה
A day of humility in a week of strength

On Friday, my friend Randi Taylor and I went to to see "Our Struggle: Responding to Mein Kamf" at The Contemporary Jewish Museum. It was a second visit to this exhibit for me, and will not be my last visit. The images contained in the space are compelling on so many levels--beauty and horror; hellish and divine; hope and despair.

The daughter of French painter and photographer Linda Ellia came home with a copy of Mein Kamf, found at a friend's house. Holding the book in her hands, Ms. Ellia, a Jew, found that "my fingers burnt. I couldn’t keep it to myself. I had a duty to share it with others. I wondered how I could set about preventing such a massacre reoccurring and generating so much evil." She took some pages and used them as a basis for artwork that could express her deep emotions. She then took another step:
"One evening I had the idea of inviting people from all conditions and walks of life to participate in producing a collective work. I would cut out and distribute each of the 600 hundred pages of the book randomly, or to people of my choice. These 600 contributors would represent the deaths of over 6 million deportees.

The objective is to express on each page the emotion it evokes.
Together we will recreate the book. It will become « Our Combat »"

As you walk through the space, looking at these haunting images, you can feel the emotions involved in the creation of the pages. There is intense interaction with the text. Many choose to completely obliterate the words, but in very different manners. Some highlight the words, either for emphasis of meaning, or to change the intention. I encourage all who can to go and see the exhibit for yourselves, feel your own interaction with these artworks that transform those words filled with hate. Those who cannot get to the CJM, you can see some of the pages on Linda Ellia's Notre Combat website.

Today, on Yom HaShoah, on this day of Holocaust Remembrance, take a few moments to remember that we must always be aware of the ongoing battle against those who promote hatred and become part of the fight, not a bystander.

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