Swastika and Star of David art piece featured in Juraj Kralik's Le Quattro Stagione-Stolen Geometry III.
(photo credit: COURTESY OF ART COLOGNE 2016 ART FAIR.)
The display of a Star of David set side-by-side with a swastika at an October art fair in the city of Cologne prompted sharp criticism last week.
“To compare Israel with Nazism is clearly antisemitic. It is illegal to display the swastika in Germany, but not in an artistic context. This exhibit abuses that exception in order to blatantly traduce Israel,” Jonathan Hoffman, a London-based campaigner against antisemitism who complained about the exhibit, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.
The artist, Juraj Kralik, responded to the criticism of his project, saying, “Le Quattro Stagione – Stolen Geometry I installation, which juxtaposes the symbols of David’s Star and the Nazi swastika, presented at Art Cologne last month, is part of this series of works. This canvas, as is the case with the rest of the series, does not aspire to comment on an individual/isolated ideology, religion or faith.”
He added, “It does, however, aspire to be this artist’s memento of their clash, resulting in 60 million casualties, be it on the battlefield, in the concentration camp, while escaping the war zone or perhaps hiding in one’s own cellar. My emotions were the strongest while creating this piece, and I recall my hands shaking on many occasions thinking of the suffering and atrocities caused.”
Kralik erroneously said the exhibit took place at Art Cologne. His exhibit appeared at ART.FAIR in Cologne. Daniel Hug
Directorof Art Cologne, wrote the Post: "I and my committee of galleries would never let such a veiled antisemitic statement into our art fair."
Gerd Buurmann, a theater director who has written extensively on antisemitism and visited the exhibit in Cologne, wrote on his blog Tapfer im Nirgendwo, “My reply is: no, no, no! The Jewish Star of David and the Nazi swastika don’t merely symbolize ideologies. The one ideology isn’t comparable to the other. Judaism is not Nazism. Israel is not Nazi Germany.
“There is a clear, qualitative difference between the Jewish Star of David and the Nazi swastika. Moreover, the two symbols were not in conflict with each other! Rather, it was those who ganged up behind the swastika who wanted to annihilate without exception all the people – the men, the women, the children, the infants – who stood behind the six-pointed star.”
He added, “The Holocaust was not a conflict between Nazis and Jews! The Holocaust was the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jewish people. That’s not an armed conflict, that’s mass murder! To say this ‘conflict’ between Jews and Nazis led to the battlefield casualties of World War II, as if the Jews were a war party, is absolutely grotesque and trivializes the inhumanity of the Holocaust.
“Maybe artists shouldn’t interpret their own works of art,” he concluded. “In any case, this artist’s interpretation makes my hands shake!”