- The Washington Times - Monday, March 18, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Protesters chanted "Don't go in" and "Shame on you" as an exhibit on artists' use of Nazi imagery including Lego and Prada death camps opened yesterday at the Jewish Museum.
"For a Jewish museum to trivialize the Holocaust is outrageous and unacceptable," said Dr. Michael Schulder, a surgeon who joined about 100 protesters behind police barricades across from the museum on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
The exhibit, titled "Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art," also features a piece in which the artist has inserted a picture of himself with a Diet Coke can into a photo of concentration-camp prisoners.
The exhibit drew protests from Jewish community leaders for months before it opened.
After meeting with Holocaust survivors who had criticized the exhibit, museum officials decided to post a sign reading, "Some Holocaust survivors have been disturbed by the works of art shown beyond this point. Visitors may choose to avoid the works by exiting the exhibition through the door to the left."
Other works include a strip of photos of costumed actors who have portrayed Nazis, such as Yul Brenner and Robert Duvall; a computerized image in which a bar code morphs into men in a concentration camp; and collages mixing pictures of nude women with those of Nazi officers.
Exhibit organizers say the messages are complex and challenging, but that the show's 13 artists from eight different countries raise questions about commercialization and iconic images of the Holocaust.
The show's first day drew a steady trickle of visitors. Protesters outside included Holocaust survivor Oscar Ilan, 78, who held up a small slip of paper.
"This is the list of the camps that I was in," Mr. Ilan said. "You can count 10. I had to come out just to protect our dignity."
City Councilman Simcha Felder, who represents a heavily Orthodox Jewish district in Brooklyn, said the exhibit was like "rubbing salt into the wounds of survivors."
"I'm not going to debate whether it's art or not, but it shouldn't be in a Jewish museum," he said.
Inside the exhibit, some visitors examined the works silently while others murmured disapproval.
Britt Marie Sundblad, a tourist from Sweden, called Zbigniew Libera's Lego concentration camp set "horrible."
"Imagine children coming in here and seeing this," she said.
Diane Simpson, an artist from Chicago who liked the Lego piece, was less enthusiastic about works by Tom Sachs, which included a gun and swastika made from a matzo box, a cardboard death camp made from a Prada hat box and three poison-gas canisters stamped with Chanel, Hermes and Tiffany labels.
In an interview with the New York Times Magazine, Mr. Sachs said he sought to link fashion and fascism, saying both are "about the loss of identity."
Miss Simpson said Mr. Sachs was "trying too hard and he's sort of being fashionable himself in terms of the art world."


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