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  • Edward Hillel - Gallery I

    Edward Hillel

    About the Artist

    Edward Hillel is a multidisciplinary artist. His productions explore urgent contemporary themes anchored in human stories, and include photography, video, audio, prints, drawings, sculpture and hybrid "sites", installations employing varied media, archives and found materials.The works often result from processes anchored in real time, focus on people and places, involve collaborations with creative professionals, and include an educational component. His practice is a form of gesammtkunstwerk, a total engagement with the world he inhabits.

    Edward Hillel was born in Baghdad, Iraq and grew up in Montreal, Canada. He studied political science and philosophy at McGill University and spent several years as a community organizer before taking up photography. He resided in Paris between 1990 and 2000 and in 2006 opened a studio in New York. He is currently Founder & Director of the forthcoming Harlem Biennale.

    Edward Hillel Biography and Curriculum Vitae(PDF)

    Artist Statement


    My interest in the Holocaust was triggered when I moved to France in 1990. I was struck by Europe's silence and confused response to commemorations and memorialization of the Shoah, and the traumatized panic surrounding current far-right ideologies (Le Pen, Haider, skinheads) and ongoing genocides (Rwanda, Somalia, Yugoslavia). While a new and optimistic European Union was begging to finally bury its collective nightmare as the Shoah's 50th anniversary approached, contemporary events kept bringing it back to the surface. I began to understand the Holocaust as a continuum with a past, present and future - a living active memory of testimonies, events, archives and archetypes providing lessons and inspiration to mankind. I use this memory pool to create works sometimes called art.

    The challenge to every artist using the tragedies of history and memory in their work is to locate his place vis-à-vis the facts; for in addition to our desire to create lasting, autonomous works of art that instruct and inspire, we have a responsibility to the dead, to all those victims of genocide. Our activity, our work, is a kind of incantation, a Kaddish or a prayer of remembrance.

    As I get further into this body of work, it seems that the more I learn and the more I know, the less I am able to express or tell others. That is, the disparity keeps growing between what is lived and profoundly experienced on the one hand, and what can be expressed using all the scientific, artistic, intellectual and technological means we have at our disposal. This may have to do with our collective need to lay to rest and mourn our dead, to give them a proper burial, which, in the case of genocide, we can never completely mourn, and therefore set ourselves free. It seems that our desire as artists to create, to be witness, is constantly overcome by a fundamental need as men and women to mourn our fellow humans. And it is precisely from this act of collective mourning that understanding, illumination, and revelation arises. It is in their meaningless deaths that we, the living, find the strength to reach for a better, more just and humane world.

    To begin work on this subject is not to make only an aesthetic choice, but rather a political or ethical one. It is to accept a fair amount of risk that our institutional peers will categorize and marginalize our total production under the rubric "Shoah". Ultimately it exposes us to the powerful narrative and emotional forces emanating from this event, to walk through its ashes, take in the full force of its impact and survive to tell the tale. And at best, this is all we can hope to do. As Primo Levi wrote, "the absolute truth disappeared with the ashes in the crematoriums of the Third Reich." What remains are personal ways for each of us to live with it.

    “An Artist's Dialogue with the Holocaust:”  Yom HaShoah address, St. Francis College, April 19, 2012 YouTube

    Portraits of French Survivors

    jaques lazarus

    Jacques Lazarus

    charles baron

    Charles Baron

    rafael felgelson

    Rafael Felgelson

    henry bulawko

    Henry Bulawko

    lucie aubrac

    Lucie Aubrac

    simone veil

    Simone Veil

    rosette gryzski

    Rosette Schalit Grzyski

    guy rothschild

    Guy Rothschild

    jean pierre levy

    Jean Pierre Levy

    yvette farnoux

    Yvette Farnoux. Temoin No. 31. Visage IX. 50 x 75cm.

    pere michel riquet

    Pere Michel Riquet

    genivieve de gaulle

    Genevieve De Gaulle

    fernande schalit

    Fernande Schalit

    pierre mussetta

    Pierre Mussetta

    claude bourdet

    Claude Bourdet

    marie claude

    Marie-Claude Vaillant Couturier

    Der Gelbe Stern

    gallerie of jews

    Galerie of Jews XV.
    120 x 160cm.1996-97

    eye I eye II

    repetition xviii

    The Gelbe Stern 1996-97 Repetition XVIII 25 photos.

    repetition detal

    Der Gelbe Stern Repetition XVIII Detail 1.

    repetition detal

    Der Gelbe Stern Repetition XVIII Detail 2.

    repetition detal

    Der Gelbe Stern Repetition XVIII Detail 3.

    repetition detal

    Der Gelbe Stern Repetition XVIII Detail 4.

    gallerie of jews detail

    Other Works

    resistance

    Collaboration Resistance.

    deportation

    Deportation. 1994

    liberation

    Liberation.

    final solution

    Final Solution.

    Color Photograph from Agfacolor. Color negative with red filter - Positive Cibachrome Print.

    Color Photograph from Agfacolor. Color negative with red filter - Negative Agfacolor Print.

    More Artwork by Edward Hillel