Jewish Group Accuses Estonian Museum of Mocking the Holocaust

"Such perverted humor has no place in any country."

A painting in the controversial exhibition
A painting in the controversial exhibition "My Poland: On Recalling and Forgetting" Estonia's Tartu Art Museum.

A contemporary art exhibition at Estonia’s Tartu Art Museum has come under fire from a prominent Jewish group, reports AFP. “My Poland: On Recalling and Forgetting” features eight works by Polish artists inspired by World War II, and has been condemned by LA’s Simon Wiesenthal Center for what it sees as mocking depictions of the Holocaust.

The Wiesenthal Center has called for the show to be taken down. Among the pieces that have caused offense are a video showing naked concentration camp inmates playing tag in a gas chamber by Artur Żmijewski and a staged photo of a camp liberation, the survivors widely smiling. The latter is a seeming reference to the conspiracy theories of Holocaust deniers. One painting depicts the Hollywood Hills with the iconic Hollywood sign reading “Holocaust,” perhaps in reference to the popularity of cinematic depictions of the Holocaust such as Schindler’s List.

“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,” reads a statement from Efraim Zuroff, director of the Center’s Jerusalem office. “Such perverted humor has no place in any country, least of all one in which Holocaust crimes were perpetrated not only by Germans and Austrians, but by local Estonian Nazi collaborators as well.”

“These are not humorous works,” exhibition curator Rael Artel told AFP, adding that the Wiesenthal Center “totally missed the point.” Artel is an independent curator “based in the forests of Estonia” and has organized shows in Lisbon, New York, Amsterdam, and Warsaw, according to the Dutch Art Institute.

Zuroff remained unconvinced, calling the exhibition “a totally perverted outrageous way of honoring the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz” in an interview with RT.

This is not the only art-related Holocaust controversy of recent months (see Artists Rebuild Polish Synagogue Inside Hitler’s Castle and Hitler’s First House Could Become a Museum).

“My Poland: Recalling and Forgetting” is on view at the Tartu Art Museum through March 29.


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