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Martin J. Wein

virtual art gallery

Vanitas, Installation, 2011-2013, Prince of Kakania

This installation activates memories of inner and outer worlds, childhood and home, fragility and resilience. The object has two movement poles going in opposite directions and works with lights, colors and optical illusions. The effects in daylight and in darkness are quite different, with the "night" version filling the walls of an entire room with an infinite tapestry of moving lights. The sound effects are designed to be irregular and arbitrary, like life itself. The material was mostly collected as garbage from the streets of Tel Aviv-Jaffa in Israel.

Vanitas Link to Youtube Film Clip (1:47 min.)

Amsterdam-Frankfurt-Prague, 2011, Prince of Kakania

This trilogy of multi-layered collages is a visual representation of Jewish and interreligious history in three European cities. Amsterdam, Frankfurt on Main and Prague remained as the only major Jewish urban centers in Western Europe after the great waves of expulsions or forced conversions of Jews, peaking in Spain in 1492. The three ghettoes formed a string of stations connecting Eastern Europe's Ashkenazy Jews with the Sephardic, Western European and Atlantic worlds. All three cities eventually lost most of their Jewish communities in the Holocaust, and the former ghettoes were destroyed in the framework of "urban renewal" before or after the Shoah.

Amsterdam (high resolution)

The Lutheran philosopher and founder of German nationalism Johann Gottlieb Fichte wrote in 1793 that the only way to assimilate Jews was "cutting off their heads in a single night and equipping them with new ones devoid of any Jewish idea. In order to protect ourselves from them I again see no other measure than to conquer for them their promised land and send them all there." This was written a century and a half before the Holocaust and the foundation of Israel, but both metaphors, eventually expressed as genocide and Zionism, were like self-fulfilling prophecies. The collage is all about rolling heads and knives, on a background of a valuable rare print of Frankfurt's iconic Main river panorama, dating approximately from Fichte's time. Frankfurt was the city of imperial coronation and of Germany's first parliament, as well as ancestral home of the Rothschild family. A touch of red was added to the print to indicate blood.

Prague (high resolution)

Since the middle ages, this was one of Europe's greatest ghettoes, with up to 10,000 Jews walled in, a third of Prague's population at the time. This historical chain also reminds us of Muslims and Christians being walled in in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip today. Walling people in is a bad omen. In 1357, Prague's Jewish community received the privilege of a banner, like a territorial entity, from the emperor Charles IV: a yellow six-pointed star on a red field. This ancient astronomical and interreligious symbol now for the first time became a Jewish communal symbol, then the city's Hebrew printers' stamp, and eventually the flag of the State of Israel, although with different colors. The yellow "Star of David" was meanwhile used to mark Jews for genocide. The textile wrap is a shawl from Cambodia, where a genocide transpired only decades ago - within the same nation: a people killing itself.

The pieces were first shown in July 2011 in the solo exhibition "Regrospectiva" at the Temporary Art Gallery on Shenkin Street, Aviv-Jaffa.

© All rights of material on this website reserved by Martin J. Wein unless published elsewhere or indicated otherwise, last update 8 Sept., 2016, martinjwein22@yahoo.com.