University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Jeremy Newman

Jeremy Newman ws born January 18, 1973 in Elyria Ohio, and received his B.A. at Baldwin-Wallace College and his M.F.A. in Media Arts from Ohio State University. Newman produces both documentary and experimental videos. His documentaries examine historic subjects, the arts and countercultural figures. Newman's experimental videos mediate reality via a surrealist aesthetic.

Artist's Statement

Agnus Dei is a plea for tolerance warning that religion without morality is death. In this video, Adolph Hitler's bastardized Christian rhetoric is presented with disturbing immediacy and the fragile beauty of religion fades away. Citing the consequences of Hitler's "mission," Agnus Dei demonstrates that the biblical concept of martyrdom has become a tragic reality. In the end, the flames of intolerance consume Faith, leaving emptiness.

Synagogues on Fire draws a parallel between Christian anti-Semitism and Nazi anti-Semitism suggesting that centuries of religious intolerance led to the Holocaust. In this video, there are no burning bodies or piles of corpses. Instead, interweaving visuals and audio establish an underlying destructiveness. Synagogues on Fire cites the past as a warning for the future insisting that it is important to recognize the undertones.

Artworks: Absence/Presence

Agnus Dei (1998)

film still





Produced, directed and edited by Jeremy Newman. Videography: Jeremy Newman. Still photography: Bryan Rinnert. Soundtrack: Sean M. Painter. With: Paul Chambers, Alex Berlepsch, Dawn Detarando, Jeremy Newman. 1998, U.S., video, 3 min.

Agnus Dei was shot on 8mm video, edited with Adobe Premiere (radius compression) and output onto VHS (NTSC).

Agnus Dei is thoroughly modem, yet it is timeless. The short, flowing piece presents the issue with simplicity and immediacy. The black and white imagery, the subtle use of cinema verite and the gritty sense of environment give the events an eye-witness, documentary tone. The religious imagery is bathed in a soft diffuse light while the flames, the smoke and the floating ashes of a book burning serve as the connective tissue between Faith and emptiness. And, the haunting soundtrack echoes the unfolding events.

Despite the complexity of the issues involved, the video's power comes from its simplicity. In Agnus Dei, the insignificant details of a book burning are of great significance. The gently wind-blown pages of a burning book, a young woman warming her hands with the flames and the presence of a young boy, make the events more real -- increasing the sense of tragedy.

Synagogues on Fire (1996)

Synagogues on Fire film stills

Synagogues on Fire film stills

Directed and edited by Jeremy Newman. Videography: Jeremy Newman. Soundtrack: Jeremy Newman. With: Nicole Sobota, Alex Berlepsch, Melissa Newman, Jason Newman,Mark McHugh. 1996, U.S., video, 4 mins.

Synagogues on Fire was shot on 8mm video, edited with Adobe Premiere (radius compression) and output onto VHS (NTSC).

Synagogues on Fire is black and white with a few moments of vivid primary color. It is a short, flowing piece -- a mixture of the literal and the abstract. At the beginning, a quote from Martin Luther (slowly scrolled to withhold from the viewer its surprising authorship) sets an ominous tone and a closing quote from Heine adds an ironically German voice for German tolerance. Overall, its eerie calm is part of the experience, part of the horror.

This video explores a complex social issue in an unorthodox manner. Through understatement and ambiguity, it establishes a calculated confusion -- challenging the viewer's perceptions. Instead of claiming to answer questions, Synagogues on Fire raises them.

Page updated 2013.