As an art curator working under the aegis of a Jewish cultural institution, Simon Zalkind sees a lot of Holocaust-related art. But much of what comes his way just doesnt ring true: The majority of what I see is not convincing either as art or history or as a commemoration or as a legitimate way to give voice to something which cannot be articulated.
Inspired by the words of philosopher Theodor Adorno, who wrote, After Auschwitz, writing poetry is barbaric, Zalkind continually sought Holocaust work that expressed the rare combination of authentic witness and exquisite artistic bravura that rose above mere self-expression.
But when the portfolio of Arie Alexander Galles crossed his desk, Zalkind was floored. The artists Fourteen Stations, a chilling suite of large-scale charcoal drawings based on Luftwaffe and Allied aerial photos of Nazi death camps, did for Zalkind what no other artists work had done before: They stopped him in his tracks.
Theyre gorgeous, Zalkind says. The depth at which they enter into you is so cool and dispassionate and not at all cloying. They function as a credible document of the Holocaust, but also as a set of weirdly universal talismans of something that did happen for which there has never been a real location. The suite, accompanied by the poems of Jerome Rothenberg, goes on view today at the Mizel Centers Singer Gallery beginning at 5:30 p.m.; Galles, the son of survivors and a compelling speaker, will give an artist talk at 7:30 p.m.