Awkward Art Histories: Which forms of memorial best commemorate the Holocaust?
Friday 30th September, 7pm
Which forms of memorial best commemorate the Holocaust?
The collective commemoration of the dead is part of most communities’ public landscape. How we remember those dead varies from nation to nation, religion to religion and conflict to conflict and takes many forms. Most of these memorials are highly visible and usually take the form of plaques or sculptures bearing a list of names; the sculptures are often figurative. The design of memorials are also influenced by, among other things, location and commissioning and have a tendency to be obvious in their intention while prescribing how the beholder should feel or behave, thus influencing the way they remember the dead: they engage the viewer while manipulating their feelings.
Most memorials aim to honour those who died in the service of their country. However, many innocent victims die during conflicts of war and it is the attempt to honour the memory of around eleven million people in the Holocaust under the regime in Nazi Germany that we shall address in this talk. In most cases there are no graves for these people, many reduced to ash, and in the past few decades attempts have been made to provide places to commemorate those lost in the Holocaust while offering consolation and healing to those involved in other ways, both directly and indirectly. If the purpose of a memorial to the dead is not only to remember their presence in life, but to warn future generations of the dangers (among many others) of dictatorship, war and genocide, how does one begin to design such a monument?