Swastika or Star of David?

The following artwork was presented at the Art.Fair in Cologne during the month of October 2016:

Whether one sees a swastika or a Star of David in the artwork is a matter of perspective. The Art.Fair was held in the Cologne trade fair halls where on February 19, 1933 Adolph Hitler spoke at a campaign rally of the NSDAP, where April 22-30,1933 a National Socialist „German Week“ under the title „think German – buy German“ took place, where trade fairs reflecting the concept of a superior race took place, where prisoners of war were imprisoned, where Jewish property was auctioned and where Jews and Roma and Sinti were held prisoner before being deported to Poland for extermination.

After the Kir Royal Gallery made a public statement, the artist, Juraj Kralik, chose to defend his work „Le Quattro Stagione Stolen Geometry III“ on Facebook. Tapfer im Nirgendwo presents the artist’s statement:

STATEMENT LE QUATTRO STAGIONE – STOLEN GEOMETRY by Juraj KRALIK, author of artwork Le Quattro Stagione-Stolen Geometry III presented at the ART COLOGNE 2016 art fair.

I am not an ideological, a theological or a political person. I am an artist. And above all I am a human being. For half a century I have been perceiving and experiencing the enormous changes human society has undergone in 20th and 21st centuries, many of them first-hand and some perhaps unique for a citizen of a former communist country. I have always felt astonished as an artist to see how throughout history ideologies have managed to hijack ancient symbols frequently represented visually/geometrically, abusing them for religious and political objectives. This fascination with symbols and the pure shapes of their visual representation led me to conceive, in 2014, a series of artworks named Le Quattro Stagione –Stolen Geometry.

Eight symbols – four installations – four historical confrontations visually represented through graphically clear and strongly contrasting images reflecting antagonism that may be perceived as a clash between good and evil. Such a juxtaposition of symbols could be overwhelming, even shocking, generating the strongest and most violent of emotions – hatred, fear, revolt etc. Communist gulags and famines, the Final Solution, Radical Islam atrocities to name but a few in the name of ideology, religion and faith. Are we capable of living in peace and harmony…? Another impulse to create this series of works was an old man’s lament pointing the finger at the young generation. The ones communicating digitally through social media, embracing the consumerist values imposed on them, oblivious to (their) past, unable to learn from it and therefore blind as to what the future might bring.

Le Quattro Stagione – Stolen Geometry I installation, which juxtaposes symbols of David’s Star and the Nazi swastika presented at Art Cologne last month is part of this series of works. This canvas, as is the case with the rest of the series, does not aspire to comment on an individual/isolated ideology, religion or faith. It does however aspire to be this artist’s memento of their clash resulting in 60 million casualties, be it on the battlefield, in the concentration camp, while escaping the war zone or perhaps hiding in one’s own cellar. My emotions were the strongest while creating this piece and I recall my hands shaking on many occasions thinking of the suffering and atrocities caused.

The second installation represents the clash of Communism and Orthodox Christianity. Hammer and sickle – symbols and tools of communist ideology left millions of dead through starvation or in forced labour camps throughout what was known as the Soviet Union. And its antithesis – the cross of the Orthodox Church. The third installation juxtaposes the symbols of Chistianity and Islam – the Christian Cross and Islam’s Star and Crescent. We are witnesses to this painful and escalating clash on a daily and frequently personal basis.

The series is completed with the juxtaposition of symbols antagonizing not each other, but all the remaining symbols in the series: the Yin and yang concept of interconnectedness and duality of opposing forces and the Pacifism concept of non-violence opposing militarism and war.

The Make Love Not War generation of today may be familiar with the subject of their protest from the high definition screens of their wide screen TV sets. I am afraid that the symbols of the previous 3 installations may have lost their significance for this generation. The circle has been completed and a new cycle follows with changing seasons. Political movements, ideologies do come and go, almost like the seasons, not infrequently leaving behind scorched land as a reminder of conflicts. How many Trojan horses have we brought into our own yard without seeing the danger coming…?

***

What a statement!

My reply is: no, no, no! The Jewish Star of David and the Nazi swastika don’t merely symbolize ideologies. The one ideology isn’t comparable to the other. Judaism is not Nazism. Israel is not Nazi Germany.

There is a clear qualitative difference between the Jewish Star of David and the Nazi swastika. Moreover, the two symbols were not in conflict with each other! Rather, it was those who ganged up behind the swastika who wanted to annihilate without exception all the people – the men, the women, the children, the infants – who stood behind the six-pointed star.

The Holocaust was not a conflict between Nazis and Jews! The Holocaust was the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jewish people. That’s not an armed conflict, that’s mass murder!

To say this „conflict“ between Jews and Nazis led to the battlefield casualties of World War II, as if the Jews were a war party, is absolutely grotesque and trivializes the inhumanity of the Holocaust.

Maybe artists shouldn’t interpret their own works of art. In any case, this artist’s interpretation makes my hands shake!

***

Translation:
William Wires
http://www.williamwires.com
http://www.facebook.com/William.Wires.Fine.Art

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