In the Museums of Rome Capital contemporary Israeli artists reflect on the drama of the Shoah

On the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the civic museums of Roma Capitale are hosting six video installations dedicated to past works by contemporary Israeli artists to reflect on the drama of the Shoah.

On the occasion of the Holocaust Memorial Day celebrations, the Civic Museums of Roma Capitale are hosting ZAKHOR/RICORDA from January 18 to February 12, 2023. Rome’s civic museums and memory through art, an exhibition curated by Giorgia Calò that aims to offer a reflection on the drama of the Shoah through six video installations, in six venues of the Sistema Musei di Roma Capitale, dedicated to works created in the past by contemporary Israeli artists.

Promoted by Roma Culture, Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali, the Embassy of Israel in Italy and the Jewish Community of Rome in collaboration with the Italy-Israel Foundation for Culture and the Arts, the exhibition project is part of Memoria genera Futuro, the program of events promoted by the Department of Culture of Roma Capitale on the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023.

"Zakhor," which in Hebrew means Remember, stems from a reflection on the past and its elaboration in the present. Through the evanescence and insubstantiality of the works, visible only on video, and their decontextualization in relation to the place that hosts them, the aim is to provoke in the public a reflection on Nazism.

The artists involved have measured themselves with the past in different ways, treating it from various points of view. From provocation to reflection, from accusation to resilience, all the works seem to shout a warning: remember and do not forget. Preserving memory, handing it down from generation to generation, not allowing time and death to make it fall into oblivion, is one of the motives that moves the artists and their creativity.

The artists are Boaz Arad(The Nazi Hunters Room at the Centrale Montemartini), Vardi Kahana(Three Sisters at the Ara Pacis Museum), Dani Karavan(Man walking on railways at the Museo di Roma), Simcha Shirman(Whose Spoon Is It? at the Museo di Roma in Trastevere), Micha Ullman(Second House. Jerusalem-Rome at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna) and Maya Zack(Counterlight at the Giovanni Barracco Museum of Ancient Sculpture).

The exhibition project aims to foster a dialogue with new generations, offering them an alternative and innovative look. For this reason, the video installations are accompanied by a QR Code from which a map of the museums involved can be downloaded, as well as a critical text that tells the story of the artists, their biographies and production.

Some of the artists in the exhibition are second-generation, meaning they were born after World War II to parents who lived in Europe under the Nazi regime and suffered its horrors, fleeing from place to place until they reached the Land of Israel. Born into families affected by the tragedy of the Shoah, they inherited the feeling of emptiness and loss that accompanies their lives and their art. The selected artists are among the most celebrated on the contemporary Israeli scene.

Boaz Arad (Tel Aviv 1956-2018) was a painter, sculptor, photographer and video artist. His works relate back to the concepts of memory and identity and are pervaded by an ironic and irreverent vein that helps the viewer process the dramatic nature of the themes addressed. Centrale Montemartini is hosting a slide show of the exhibition held at the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv in 2007, at which the artist presented The Nazi Hunters Room.

Vardi Kahana (Tel Aviv, 1959) an internationally renowned photographer, her work revolves around the message of resilience. The Ara Pacis Museum is hosting Three Sisters (1992) from the One Family cycle, a black-and-white shot in which the artist captures the image of her mother, Rivka Kahana, with her two sisters Leah and Esther. Consecutive numbers on their forearms reveal the order in which they were tattooed in Auschwitz in 1944.

Dani Karavan (Tel Aviv, 1930-2021) was the author of memorials including Passages - Homage to Walter Benjamin (Portbou, 1990-1994) and The Sinti & Roma Memorial (Berlin, 1999-2012). The Museum of Rome at Palazzo Braschi is hosting the video Man walking on railways made by the artist during his exhibition in Düsseldorf in 1989, focusing on a man’s walk on railroad tracks, which for Karavan becomes a symbol of the Shoah and the forced transportation of Jews.

Simcha Shirman (Germany, 1947), born to parents who survived the Shoah. The Israeli photographer is known for connecting the representation of the visible to a mental concept of the interpretation of reality. The Museo di Roma in Trastevere is hosting Whose Spoon Is It? (2011), where the immortalized object is transposed into a subjective dimension that cannot disregard the iconological meaning that each of us attributes to it.

Micha Ullman (Tel Aviv, 1939) known for his underground installations, in Germany, the birthplace of his parents, has designed memorials dedicated to the Shoah, including Library (1995) at Bebelplatz in Berlin, in memory of the burning of books at the Nazi hands in 1933. The Gallery of Modern Art hosts Second House. Jerusalem - Rome, an environmental sculpture created by the artist in Rome on the occasion of Memorial Day 2004.

Maya Zack (Tel Aviv, 1976) seeks through her elaborate work to trace a “theory of memory.” The Giovanni Barracco Museum of Ancient Sculpture hosts the video Counterlight (2016), focusing on the individual condition of Romanian Jewish poet Paul Celan and his family to highlight how the Nazi-fascist delirium affected families, interpersonal relationships, affections, loves, with the aim of erasing the very concept of humanity.

Tickets: Admission to the exhibitions will be allowed to ticket holders of the exhibition venues of the host Civic Museums according to current pricing. Free with the MIC card.

Image: Boaz Arad, The Nazi Hunters Room (2007; installation CCA - Tel Aviv) © Boaz Arad

In the Museums of Rome Capital contemporary Israeli artists reflect on the drama of the Shoah
In the Museums of Rome Capital contemporary Israeli artists reflect on the drama of the Shoah

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