The Holocaust in the Market
The Holocaust in the Realm of the National and the Communal
About the Installation

The installation is a 9'x16' wall of a composite photograph made up
of about one hundred color photographs of Holocaust books and video packages
on shelves in New York bookstores and video stores. In the middle of  the
wall an actual shelf is installed. On the shelf there are five documentary
photographs of a pile of naked, dead bodies which were taken at Buchenwald
by an American soldier at the time of liberation. From a distance one sees
the colorful wall. The documentary material can be seen only from up close,
by surprise and intimately.

To the sides of the color photographs there are two lists of “code
words”/associations which relate to the way the Market on the
one hand and the Nationalistic/Communal ideology on the other, affect the
memory of the Holocaust.

The main aim of the installation was to show how Market ideology
shapes the memory of the Holocaust. In order to do that, seductive,
pretty advertising images that appear on book covers and video
packages that deal with the Holocaust, were juxtaposed with the harsh
documentary images which can be seen usually in national memorial sites and
inside books but almost never appear on book covers and video packages.

The installation was shown at Ami Steinitz Contemporary Art  in Tel Aviv in
1997 and in Brookdale College in New Jersey in 1999.

Book Covers
The Good News about the Holocaust

The way the Holocaust is depicted on book covers is determined by the same
marketing conditions, advertising language and ideology that determine the
rest of the subjects in the book market. “Ads are the good news,” Marshal
McLuhan once wrote and here too, they become the good news about the
Holocaust - there's something new to sell. The ads on the covers, by the use
of icons, symbols, metaphors and slick typography empty the horror from the
Holocaust and make it not only pretty to look at but also attractive and
optimistic. A book cover with the name Auschwitz written with elongated,
embossed gold letters against black background, has more affinity with the
seduction of an elegant chocolate package than the harsh association of such
a name.

The drive of the market to sell the largest variety and the largest amount
of objects, creates a multiplicity in the book market which makes the
Holocaust just one out of many other subjects without hierarchy of
importance. Cooking, Politics, Holocaust, Sports, Humor, Fiction etc are
lumped together giving rise to the market’s own hierarchy of importance
which has to do with which book becomes a best seller, wins a prize or makes
its author famous and which book disappears from the shelf never to return.
The market also turns the Holocaust into one of many other Holocausts: the
Cambodians, the Atztecs, the Ukrainians the Ruandans etc. This brings into
sharper focus the antagonism between liberal/free market ideology and
nationalistic ideology and their respective attitudes towards the uniqueness
of the Holocaust.  The drive of the market for multiplicity of objects, is
carried over into the market of ideas where the ideologues of the market
promote “pluralism,” “diversity of points of views” and the eradication of
distinction between “High and Low.”

The abundance of objects and images in the market and their fast and
constant change, demands a relation which works by way of fast recognition
and fast classification of images.  As a result, symbols such as the
swastika and the Jewish star and Icons such as the face of Anna Frank,
fences with barbed wire, the boy raising his hands at the Warsaw ghetto, the
gate at Auschwitz, inmates in striped clothes etc. become substitutes for
experience of slow and deep communion.

The needs of the market become the doctrine of what is and what is not
acceptable to show outside the narrow confines of the specialized (national)
Holocaust memorial site. Harsh Holocaust images, which used to be the
typical images representing the Holocaust, are rejected as inappropriate, in
bad taste or emotional blackmail when appearing unexpectedly in magazines,
T.V., on book covers and other public places. At the same time, seductive,
ambiguous, bland images become the norm for Holocaust representation in
advertising as well as in art.