our struggle mein kampf 311.
(photo credit: Linda Ellia)
The images sear themselves into your memory. The pain, heartbreak, and
unimaginable evil that was the Holocaust, are now on display at the
Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) in San Francisco.
Paris-based artist Linda Ellia, a Sephardic Jew who emigrated from
Tunisia to escape the anti-Semitic violence of the 1960s, took center
stage at the February 11 opening of the exhibition, entitled Our Struggle: Responding to Mein Kamp
The concept was simple: a variety of artists from all walks of life,
including Ellia herself, took pages of a French language edition of
Hitler's manifesto and responded to the words on the page by presenting
a work of art on the page itself. 600 such images are now on display at
CJM's downtown San Francisco home, as well as in a corresponding book.
Through an interpreter, Ellia spoke in French from the stage of the CJM
auditorium, eloquently describing how it made her feel when she
actually sat down to read Mein Kampf. "I'm going to have the last word.
I'm going to respond to him," she said.
"I wanted others to be a part of it. I wanted them to feel what I felt.
Not all the contributors are Jewish because I wanted everyone: gypsies,
the handicapped, LGBT people, and of course, Jews."
Few of the artists are identified; not by name, gender, religion or
ethnicity. This was a well thought out choice on Ellia's part.
"Hitler killed people anonymously, and so it's a communal project. I'm not singling out any one individual," she said.
But as one walks through the exhibition hall, the pieces sometimes
suggests who's who. One shows a swastika-shaped building being crushed
by a huge stone Magen David. Another displays a pink triangle.
Some of the pieces might induce tears: a skeletal, bald head with a
smoke stack where hair should be; conjoined twins with amputated limbs,
a horrifying "tribute" to Dr. Mengele; a sad eyed woman, her heart
exposed, the words "I Want Peace" written across her body.
Ellia reveals that thirty of the participants were Germans, and that
they were eager to take part. Other artists included her father, her
daughter and her son.
"A recent survey revealed that 30 percent of today's youth don't know
about 9/11, much less so the Holocaust," Gregory Ellia stated when he
joined his mother on the podium. "We have a responsibility to teach
history so this never happens again."Our Struggle: Responding to Mein
Kampf will remain on display at the Contemporary Jewish Museum until
June 8. After that, Ellia hopes to bring the show to New York and