Santiago Sierra is a spanish artist. Art, in a non-representationalist area, can be a little hard to interpret sometimes. Who hasn’t gone to a museum, stood before some pipes and shelving strewn around and wondered ‘is this art?’ Who hasn’t felt uncomfortable trying to understand the message behind a canvas with some splattered paint that looks similar to an ‘art project’ they undertook at age 5?
Santiago’s latest esxhibit, 245 Cubic Meters, has provoked similar interpretive issues. According to Santiago’s recent press release, it is:
Above all, however, ‘245 Cubic Meters’ is meant to be a work about the industrialized and institutionalized death from which the European peoples of the world have lived and continue to live.
According to Stephen Kramer, the secretary-general of the Central Committee of Jews in Germany:
…Tasteless artistic spectacle that insults the dignity not only of victims of the Holocaust but also the Jewish community, [and has] absolutely nothing to do with the culture of memory and memorials.
The exhibit invovles an automobile, a hose and the sanctuary of the (not-in-use) Pulheim-Stommeln Synagogue. The exhaust of the car is channeled into the sanctuary, making it into a functional gas chamber. Visitors literally have to don gas masks which a firefigher hands out at the entrance. Apparently the effect is quite striking. According to visitors:
I’m really beaten up about this. None of the previous projects has affected me like this.
wasn’t afraid but I felt a sense of threat. This realization shouldn’t be lost in this day and age.
The German media has been condeming the work, while local politicians have defended it. According to city official Angelika Schallenberg:
The artist is making a statement, not I. He must be allowed to make a statement and convey it without any distortion. I don’t engage in censorship. The artist thinks what he thinks.
Well, that was confusing. Muffti, following PSL’s earlier charge that we cry to Foxman, searched around and found no statement from Abe. So he guesses it’s not really anti-semetic at all. The Grand Muffti isn’t sure what to think. The exhibit is powerful and shocking and flaunts the line between art and tasteles crap.
Thanks to Jpost for the story.