Inclusion of Anti-Semitic Piece Mars Los Angeles Art Show
Rabbi Shalom Rubanowitz and Shlomo (Sam) Rubanowitz
January 23-27th, the Los Angeles Convention Center hosted the L.A. Art Show. It was a scene for art lovers to marvel at—unless you cared about Holocaust Remembrance, anti-Semitism, and fair portrayals of Israel and the Middle East.
My family and I—together with Eli Weisman, a board member of the Shul On the Beach, in Venice, California—entered the more than 200,000-square-foot exhibition space on the last day of the show, which was also International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Immediately, we were greeted by what seemed to be a framed map of the Middle East, with Israel as the prominent subject.
Upon our initial, cursory view, the piece seemed to show the artist’s belief in Israel’s dominance over its surrounding countries, with its large center position in the painting, and with its neighbors occupying various “minority” positions around it. But upon closer inspection, Eli Weisman noticed something we hadn’t at first. The map is actually one of Europe, with Israel strategically placed and portrayed as Germany, and with its neighbors depicted as surrounding European countries.
I spoke to Mr. Matthias Kunz, a partner of the Sabine Knust Gallery in Munich, Germany, and the representative of the gallery at the show. He confirmed the obvious: that the artist, Daniel Richter, a German, intended to portray Israel as Nazi Germany, and not simply as a country occupying too much geographic space or asserting domination over its neighbors.
Kunz explained that the art and its exhibition was intended to “create a dialogue.” He said that the piece received little to no significant reaction, criticism, or opposition during its exhibition, by show visitors or any members of the Jewish community.
Spurred by this clear depiction of public anti-Semitic sentiment, I recorded a live video report of my reaction and opposition to the piece of “art” and posted it on Facebook a day later. As part of my message, I called on Jews and good people around the world to raise awareness of this incident of anti-Semitism in the U.S. and worldwide, as well as Jewish and Non-Jewish tolerance of such open hatred.
Readers who wish to watch the video of the exhibit may find it here: https://www.facebook.com/shalom.rubanowitz/videos/10218241109843294/
Shalom Rubanowitz is a Los Angeles attorney and the rabbi of Venice, California’s Shul on the Beach. Shalom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at email@example.com.
Shlomo (Sam) Rubanowitz is a student at Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles and a staff writer for the Shalhevet Boiling Point. Shlomo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.