-Art: Series 445 (Holocaust / People and Potential Burned to Ash)

A special case: NOT TO BE SOLD.
One doesn't try to profit from some things.

Planned for completion in time for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps in 2015. Including planning and acquisition of appropriate vintage "found objects," Series 445 has been in progress since 2008. (No actual Holocaust relics used --just vintage items of the era.)

Jump to Series Statement text.

The overall plan is to arrange the for panels to be donated by select public-spirited third parties to 1-3 worthy historical / educational sites. Anyone who can help in that capacity (know a potentially-interested curator? know an A-lister? other help?), feel free to get in touch.

Series 445 (Holocaust / People and Potential Burned to Ash)
Vintage documents and photos (no actual Holocaust relics to be used), hair (donated), latex, acrylic, objects on panels (aka mixed media). Multi-panel painting group. Each panel (~15 lbs) size ~78"x12" (6.5ft x 1ft).

Five of the eight panels: click for large view

(Unlike the typical Ward art, this group is not OmniDirectional.)

Proposal for large (33feet x 7ft appx) mashup display with compatible series 343 and 200:click for large view


DETAIL VIEWS: click for large view


The aim here is to get one pondering the Holocaust in terms of the innocent families killed off --as well as the wasted cultural and intellectual potential. Here, vintage photos and documents are cut into flame-shapes to recall not only how corpses were cremated at Nazi death camps but also how victims' personal effects of no monetary value were systematically burned --to erase every last vestige of these people.

Victims who were told they must hastily pack for "resettlement" brought with themselves passports, school papers, professional credentials, immunization records -- as well as precious sentimental items like family photos, sheet music, and children's art.

Just as much of the actual history is now lost, so too are many of the documents' details missing on the art: often, names are gone and faces are fragmented as the old papers were converted into symbolic flames. (Note: out of respect for the victims, no known actual Holocaust relics were altered; only plausible generic period materials were used.)

Using real photos has an emotional immediacy as some viewers realize: "she looks like my auntie" or "Grandma dressed like that." Reactions might include, "she looks like that urbane gal in the city who loves photography so much" --or maybe: "oh God, those kids!" Even in fragmentary form, the photos are actual images of real people caught in time --hopefully a stronger element than just listing in text form the names of people or of villages. Setting snipped photos at jarring angles contributes to an appropriate a sense of unease. Paint-dipped child-sized vintage clothing emphasizes the victimization of innocents. Occasional braids of hair evoke the killing off of civilian women and children. Railroad tracks evoke the mass participation throughout large sectors of society which made the industrial-scale killing possible. The evil SS men did also have tens of thousands of civilian helpers like railroad schedule-masters, customs officials, currency-exchangers, bank clerks, chemicals-suppliers, warehousemen, and so many others who enabled the death-machinery to grind along for years.

Except for the flames and hair, the art is entirely black except for attached electrical insulators and period barbed wire --both are white. The barb wire also has a coating of luminescent paint, evoking the deadly high voltage camp fences. The railroad tracks, clothing, flames, and electric fence elements cue the viewer that it is a Holocaust-related piece. Such cues are important for establishing the historical context; however such cues are also an artistic challenge.

Too often well-meaning artists unintentionally glorify Nazi items in the attempt to say (without words): “this is Holocaust art.” Artists who include the famous Auschwitz gate contribute to that Nazi structure's fame (without actually representing any victims). Equally problematic is using any Nazi mark-of-shame emblems like yellow stars or red triangle patches. Such visual shorthand does indeed telegraph “this is Holocaust-related,” but also makes icons of Nazi graphic design handiwork. Many European Holocaust memorials forget the lost victims and instead put in a place of honor a triangular Nazi mark of shame [ examples [Wiki] ]). It is best to give the fascists no possible benefit from the art: ideally one finds ways to explain visually the historical situation without giving any attention to the vile perpetrators. To the Nazis, an appropriate treatment is: damnatio memoriae. The victims are to be memorialized and new generations of viewers are to be helped to Never Forget.

Many thanks to the benefactors who pledged and/or actually provided key assistance including translation services, vintage materials donation, and contemporary materials donation --sometimes even including their own hair (!). Among those with such a giving spirit, thanks to: Todd Levin, Stacy Leigh, Melany Terranova, Sara Ferguson, Magdalena Kalinka Bartishevich, Jordan Finkin, Will Brovelli, Marion Callis.

PANELS INDIVIDUALLY (5 of 8 shown) :

Early sketch:

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More WARD ART here.

Exhibit views.

Unusual art processes.

Studio Visit video page.

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