Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Lego Concentration Camp

An oldie, this one, but I'm not trying to be up to date so much as I'm trying to get all the trivia out of my mind and onto a more world-readable format.

In 1997, Polish artist Zbigniew Libera took some Lego bricks (donated by the Lego company, which was ultimately quite unhappy with the whole affair) and made himself a Nazi concentration camp, complete with barracks, chain link fences, Nazi guards, Jewish prisoners (played by the ever cute Lego skeletons), and most taboo of all, the ovens in which prisoner's remains were incinerated. He then photographed it, and used the photos to make thoroughly professional Lego packaging for a nonexistent line of toys.

The work was part - though certainly the most controversial part - of a project called "Correcting Device" which claimed to be a corrective to the gap between the ideal world marketed to children and the real one created by adults. Other pieces in the series included Barbie dolls with bulging stomachs and dolls with body hair.

I found the thoughts behind this project interesting as - by virtue of having a two year old child - I'm painfully aware of how consistently children's books depict farms of a sort which effectively don't exist any more. Perhaps we need a few Lego battery chicken farms and cattle feedlots?

Obviously, any project which appears to be making light of mass murder - regardless of the artist's intentions - is prone to hostile interpretation. When Libera showed this work to a group that included Jewish Holocaust survivors, he was immediately pelted with a barrage of insults which included "Go back to Warsaw!", "You're an anti-Semite," to "This is not art! On the other hand, the Jewish Museum in New York had the mock Lego sets on display in an exhibition about the Holocaust.

Articles from The Washinton Post and Los Angeles Times
An overview of the Corrective Device project
More pictures
and last, a welcome corrective from Joe Bob Briggs, accusing the whole exhibition of being overhyped and banal.


Post a Comment

<< Home