i+D - July/August 2019 - 33

Commemoration & Inspiration - By Brian Libby

Where Art
Meets Storytelling
(and Outside
Becomes Inside)
If a well-designed memorial has the power to summon
our deepest emotions, it also has the opportunity and even
responsibility to educate us, as well as to humanize history's
most tragic events. Two works by Libeskind, the National
Holocaust Monument and his new "Through the Lens of Faith"
exhibit, use photography to help tell the story.
Seen from above, the National Holocaust Monument
is shaped like the Star of David, comprised of six triangular,
concrete volumes that provide different program areas
within: contemplative spaces, a large central gathering and
orientation space, and a towering "Sky Void" that features a
14-meter-high eternal "Flame of Remembrance." But, there also
is a series of painted murals that reproduce Toronto-based
Edward Burtynsky's large-scale photographs of Holocaust sites,
including death camps and killing fields.

Each vertical steel
panel featured in the
"Through the Lens of
Faith" pathway at the
Auschwitz-Birkenau
State Museum tells the
story of a camp survivor.
(Image: Hufton+Crow)

For "Through the Lens of Faith," Libeskind went a step further. Working
with photographer Caryl Englander and curator Henri Lustiger Thaler
of the Amud Aish Memorial Museum in Brooklyn, New York, he created
a pathway to the entrance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
comprised of vertical steel panels, each containing the recollection of a camp
survivor. The design also makes each visitor a participant in uncovering the
portraits and information.
"A memorial has to tell a story," Libeskind explains. "It can't be just an
object in space. It has to communicate the story in a very deep way.
In Auschwitz, we presented photographs behind the black piece of glass
you have to open with your hand. You can see through the glass darkly
at first, then as you open up you see that face looking at you. The same
thing is true in Ottawa: Those great Burtynsky photographs are really part
of the monument."
The centerpiece of the
National Holocaust Monument
is a diagonally stretched
version of the Star of David-a
prominent emblem of Judaism,
which Jews were forced to wear
as badges to identify themselves
to the Nazis.
(Image: doublespace photography)

i+D - July/August 2019

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i+D - July/August 2019

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