The testimonials of direct witnesses can hardly be replaced, but it is vital to recognise and support attempts to preserve the memories through artistic creation, especially among a younger generation of artists. An exhibition by a member of this generation, this year's American artist, Andrew M. Mezvinsky, will mark the 27th of January, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. His work is inspired by the testimony of Primo Levi in the chapter describing "a good day" from his book "If This Is a Man".
The American artist has lived for the last three years in Vienna and ike a nomad, he travels through continents and examines the art of previous centuries. He inhales the available ingredients and combines them to form a new composition, a new flavor, and a new atmosphere.
When he looks at masterpieces of the past, he also investigates the studies and sketches that preceded them. He dissects and breaks down art, adopts it, reuses it, and ultimately puts it back together in a novel way. In this new concept he takes significant but also banal elements and places the masterpieces in a new context, in this way creating a minimalistic dialog with the masters of the past.
The title of the chapter, A Good Day, chosen by Primo Levi, and taken over by Mezwinsky refers to the first rays of sun in Auschwitz and the hope of survival that they represent. These rays represent hope, a warning, and they represent life and human dignity, which we must learn to value.
… "In the morning while we wait endlessly in the roll-call square for the time to leave for work, while every breath of wind penetrates our clothes and runs in violent shivers over our defenseless bodies, and everything is grey around us, and we are grey; in the morning when it is still dark, we all look at the sky in the east to spot the first signs of a milder season, and the rising of the sun is commented on every occasion: today a little earlier than yesterday, today a little warmer than yesterday, in two months, in a month, the cold will call a truce and we will have one enemy less.
Today the sun rose bright for the first time from the horizon of mud. It is a Polish sun, cold, white and distant, and only warms the skin, but when it dissolved the last mists the last murmur ran through pur colourless numbers, and when it felt its lukewarmth through my clothes I understood how men can worship the sun."
It should be kept in mind that the number of survivors is diminishing every day, and that once the last survivor disappears, our only heritage will be the memory, the records and the artistic expression, so that the generations to come never forget! It seems that it would be even more horrific than all of the camps themselves if the story of the horrors, the eclipse of civilization and mankind remained untold, in a deathly void and silence, without traces of the truth. It is particularly important today to draw attention to this topic and to oppose the increasingly common attempts to suppress and relativize history.
The exhibition opening marks the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27th of January 2017 at 7 pm. at the French Pavilion (Student Center in Zagreb) Savska cesta 25, Zagreb. The exhibition is open until February 6th 2017 and the admission is free of charge.