Northern Virginia and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington DC will be holding area-wide commemoration ceremonies and events on Sunday, April 19th to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day. In honor of this important day I will be participating in the group exhibition ‘The Psychology of Scapegoating’ at the JCCNV’s Bodzin Gallery. My work (see below) is entitled J’accuse!
When the French newspaper L’Aurore hit the stands on January 13, 1898 with its incendiary headline, “J’accuse!” (I accuse), it went down in history as “the most famous front page in the history of journalism”. Emile Zola’s impassioned letter accused the French government of antisemitism in the sham trial of Jewish army captain, Alfred Dreyfus, who was convicted of treason and sentenced to solitary confinement for life on Devil’s Island. The letter inflamed the country and the world.
Unfortunately, since then and for centuries previous, the finger has been pointed repeatedly at Jewish communities and individuals across the globe. When a society feels threatened – for economic, social or military reasons – it looks for convenient targets to turn upon and blame for its ills. This in essence is the nature of scapegoating, the most heinous example of which resulted in the Holocaust.
My banner installation J’accuse! stands 6 feet in height and contains multiple references to antisemitism throughout history, from Emile Zola’s famous letter to the swastika-emblazoned banners that symbolize the Nazi regime. By inserting my own accusatory image, I am also exposing the potential bigotry that exists within each of us. Under what circumstances would we be willing to single out another in order to save ourselves? As the child of Holocaust survivors, these are questions I ponder.
As a follow up to these events I will also be presenting a talk on May 11th : Can Art play a role in the ever-growing divide between religions and cultures? All relevant details on the Artist Talk flier. I would be delighted to see you there.