The air is swarming with

The air is swarming with pieces about the Jewish Museum and the work of a number of artists I admire, including Maciej Toporowicz. As a record of this, take a look at this Op-Ed from the New York Times, dated Friday, March 22, 2002:
The Art of Banality
March 22, 2002
Few exhibitions of contemporary art have come into the
world more shrouded in exegesis than “Mirroring Evil: Nazi
Imagery/Recent Art,” which opened last week at the Jewish
Museum in Manhattan. The catalog is a briar patch of
rhetorical questions and explanatory negotiations, and that
spirit is echoed on the wall text in the gallery rooms. The
exhibition reads as though its real purpose were to watch
the reactions of viewers, as though this were mainly an
exhibition about the act of exhibiting. This seems awfully
devious in a room where Prada, Chanel, the swastika and the
F├╝hrer’s mustache intermingle in some all-too-simple
Several of the artists seem determined to persuade viewers
of an equivalence between the icons of the Third Reich and
those of global capitalism. But too often Hitler merely
provides a lens for looking at the problem of celebrity. In
“Obsession,” a film by Maciej Toporowicz, film clips from
“The Night Porter,” “The Damned” and Leni Riefenstahl’s
work bleed into ads for Calvin Klein perfumes starring Kate
Moss. This is history as resemblance. There is a vague
facial similarity between Ms. Moss and Charlotte Rampling,
who played a camp survivor in “The Night Porter,” but the
real allusion lies in their thinness.
If there is bankruptcy here, it lies in the kind of
commentary that accompanies a film like “Obsession.” “Whom
do we blame for the imagery that fascinates us?” asks
Norman Kleeblatt, the curator of this exhibition. “Why do
we continue to look? What makes us voyeurs?” This tone is
all too familiar to audiences of contemporary art these
days. It presupposes the fundamental innocence of the
artist and the collusive guilt of the viewer, who has had
the indecency to stop and look.
In a way, the most these artists can do, when it comes to
transforming the imagery of the Third Reich, is to suggest
how profoundly our culture has itself transformed that
imagery since the early 1940’s. Yet these artists have the
collective disadvantage of working in the shadow of
“Hogan’s Heroes” and “The Producers,” as well as in the far
more forbidding shadow of the kind of fervent anti-Semitism
evident recently in an article in a Saudi Arabian newspaper
repeating the so-called “blood libel” against Jews. There
is a stunning imbalance between such real-world hostility,
of which Nazism was the nadir, and the self-evident
juxtapositions that tend to rule the art in this
exhibition. Many people have worried that the show would
offend. But the only thing offensive about it is the way
its creators have self-consciously positioned it in a
tradition of “scandalous” exhibitions.

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