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In most cultures throughout history, artists have served as the harbingers of change, the prophetic voices that have challenged the way we see our ourselves, our neighbors, and our world.
Over the past few years, I been developing a body of work that employs historical imagery as metaphors for enduring questions about who we are and who are our neighbors. The political dimensions of these questions have their origins in personal narrative (my father was a teenager when he was interned in a Nazi prison camp.)
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, genocide, "ethnic cleansing" and hate crimes against religious and ethnic groups have been occurring with alarming frequency and with disastrous consequences for many populations. As we try to make sense of such contemporary atrocities, we inevitably refer to the genocide of populations who were identified as undesirable during the fascist rule of the Third Reich (Jewish, Roma, Sinti, Jehovah Witness, homosexual, mentally and physically disabled). Some viewers will recognize Holocaust images as an invitation to reflect on one of the most tragic and disturbing events in our collective histories. Many viewers will identify this imagery as an invitation to consider those who at this moment aretargets of genocide on our planet. Other viewers will respond to the emotional content of the work from their own points of entry, perhaps as meditations on our understanding of who we are and how we relate to others. Thus, the invitation to transformation (tshuvah) operates on several planes: social and political change, amending behaviors and attitudes between individuals, and awareness of our evolving sense of selfunderstanding and identity. Meanwhile, I hope viewers are intrigued by such formal considerations as the relationships of colors and shapes, movement and direction, quality of textures, light and shadow, and the interplay of imagery (e.g. juxtaposed, sequential, and superimposed).
My current goals are: 1) to make cohesive and meaningful bodies of work, 2) to exhibit and install this work in spaces that are accessible for broadening communities, and 3) to live into the imperative of André Gide, who said that to be an artist is to be an "antenna of the human race", a prophetic voice that deepens our understanding of ourselves, our neighbors, and our world.
Note: Diane Grace Goodman is a Fiscal Year 2000 recipient of a Fellowship grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.
The photomontage weaves together images of a dying tree, a train, railroad tracks, snow, and a child screaming. The familiar metaphor of winter eases the viewer into the unsettling associations that may follow as they enter into the imagery.
Photojournalists have given us images of many populations who have been displaced during the past century. I often think about women who are suddenly packing their families' belongings. What do they take with them, what must they leave behind? The silhouetted figures suggest loss and displacement, while the canyon below suggests the unknown destiny of refugees.
An SS officer photographed these three rabbis during the Hungarian transports of 1944. While they stood in the cattle car as it entered AuschwitzBirkenau, a congregant asked, "Rabbi, what will happen to us?" He responded, "Listen to the sound of the wheels screaming".
The title refers to a quote from L'Univers Concentrationnaire by David Rousset, 1946: "A decree has been issued by Goering protecting frogs." The photomontage image is a reflection on the Nazi T4 "euthanasia" program (193941). Thousands of mentally and physically disabled citizens, described by Nazi eugenics as "life unworthy of life", were systematically killed under the direction of compliant physicians.
Walls serve many functions architecturally, politically, socially, psychologically, and metaphorically. Walls surround and protect, they divide and isolate, they contain and imprison. Eighteen faces gaze at the viewer... from inside the wall?... from outside the wall? The veiled mystery of the figures in the work may also invite some viewers to recall significant people who inhabit their own memories.
Two stories are layered structurally and metaphorically.
In Exodus, the story is told of a band of emancipated slaves who were led through the wilderness by a "pillar of cloud by day" and a "pillar of fire by night". This story of liberation, protection, and guidance is recalled in the observance of the Passover Seder.
In 1944, an SS officer in Birkenau photographed these small children as they walked with their grandmother to the gas chamber. The SS officer assembled an entire photo album depicting prisoners in Birkenau, yet this is the only one where we do not see the faces of his subjects.
Irving Greenberg's quote provided the impetus for this piece: ". . . the cloud of smoke of the bodies by day and the pillar of fire of the crematoria by night may yet guide humanity to a goal and a day when human beings are attached to each other; have so much shared each other's pain . . . that never again will a Holocaust be possible."
Irving Greenberg, "Cloud of Smoke, Pillar of Fire," in John K. Roth and Michael Berenbaum (eds). Holocaust: Religious and Philosophical Implications (New York, Paragon House, 1989), p. 341.
Please contact the artist for the current exhibition schedule. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are curating an exhibition and would like to include her work, please contact Diane Grace Goodman.
Diane Grace Goodman
1347 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota 55105
Phone: (651) 644-1899