"What an incredible place (heart-eyes emoji)"
January 19, 2017 7:48 AM   Subscribe

Yolocaust re-contextualizes selfies taken at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. (Trigger warning: use of historical death camp photography.)
posted by mightygodking (64 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was literally just writing an FPP about this!

I thought it was a great project. I wish the artist had included links to the historical photos but am also glad they didn't provide links to the accounts of people who posted the selfies.

I did find one reaction article: Yolocaust mocks dumbass selfie-takers at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial

It seems to me that this phenomenon is almost a result of failure of education and imagination - the scope and scale of these events has not been made real to some generations, to the extent that this is a reasonable thing to do.
posted by hepta at 7:53 AM on January 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


From the FAQ:

"I'm on one of the pictures and suddenly regret having uploaded it to the internet. Can you remove it?"

Yes. Just send an email to undouche.me@yolocaust.de

posted by snuffleupagus at 7:54 AM on January 19, 2017 [53 favorites]


Wow. Translating horror into memorial through art is way more problematic than it seems on the surface. Because the art can allude to the horror for those who understand, but to those who don't, it just reads as cool abstract art. These people are being ignorant, but the problem will only get worse with time.
posted by rikschell at 8:03 AM on January 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


Like most German memorials, the Holocaust Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin, is extremely light about saying what, exactly, the memorial is about and how it should make one feel. The architecture itself is supposed to be the message.

This doesn't always work, but architects don't always care. I heard somewhere that the designer of the holocaust memorial was pestered repeatedly by politicians and city planners to put signs and markers to explain the memorial to visitors. He eventually relented and placed a few small tiles embedded in the sidewalk with requests to be respectful and quiet when visiting the site. His original plan for the site was to allow visitors to do whatever the heck they wanted, and if they didn't "get it", that was their problem.

The guilt of the holocaust is something that must be brought to the site by the visitor. The site merely amplifies those feelings and provides a place to meditate on them. It doesn't confront the visitor with images of dead Jews and Nazis in uniform. To confront these images daily would make one accustomed to them.

The concrete blocks, though, stay resolutely alien.

So the memorial sits and waits for those who are open to it. And to those who are, walking through the columns can be a truly harrowing and lonely experience.

And for the rest, who want facts and the disturbing images: there's at least two museum in Berlin, and a concentration camp with interpretive center just outside of town to visit.
posted by sixohsix at 8:06 AM on January 19, 2017 [29 favorites]


As a Jew who lost family members in Eastern Europe to the Holocaust (and knows one person alive with numbers tattooed on her arm from a death camp, but her health is poor and she is declining rapidly) this feels exactly right.
posted by 41swans at 8:08 AM on January 19, 2017 [7 favorites]


I feel a similar twitch every time I see people taking duck face selfies by the reflecting pools at Ground Zero. It just seems so wrong.
posted by spilon at 8:08 AM on January 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


Missing tags include: narcissism and cringeworthy
posted by heyho at 8:09 AM on January 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


When my wife and I visited a couple of years ago I didn't see anyone taking selfies like this, but there was a class of high school students there and some of them were having fun playing tag (which was dangerous on top of being disrespectful and inappropriate). I had mixed feelings about the memorial; I found it very powerful and thought-provoking, but I witnessed first-hand how easy it was for the public to just ignore or undermine its purpose as a memorial.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:12 AM on January 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


I feel a similar twitch every time I see people taking duck face selfies by the reflecting pools at Ground Zero. It just seems so wrong.

my god they're absolutely ruining the gravitas of the site that sells a $68 9/11-branded dog leash
posted by griphus at 8:13 AM on January 19, 2017 [63 favorites]


"Hey, this place isn't about ME! Does not compute!"
posted by thelonius at 8:14 AM on January 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


For me, this kind of grandstanding use of these images is far worse than the selfies. YMMV

[Jewish by blood, btw]
posted by iotic at 8:17 AM on January 19, 2017 [14 favorites]


undouche.me@yolocaust.de

This is perfection.
posted by MissySedai at 8:17 AM on January 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


I feel a similar twitch every time I see people taking duck face selfies by the reflecting pools at Ground Zero. It just seems so wrong.

I had the same thought at various other memorials to tragedies I've been to (as opposed to a memorials to other individuals or events). I almost wanted to see this for other sites.

I went to the Alamo* a few years ago. As you approach it, there are signs explaining that it is a shrine, what a shrine is, and how people should behave. Their website describes these as Rules of Reverence. While common sense, decency, and a good upbringing my suggest how one should behave at solemn or sacred sites, we can't always count on it.

*Allow the caveat that I recognize that the history this site represents is problematic--this comment is more to how the caretakers of the site protect the dignity they feel it merits; not whether it is deserved.
posted by MrGuilt at 8:20 AM on January 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


What if the families of the dead people in the photographs don't want their images used for this project? Is there another email address?
posted by iotic at 8:24 AM on January 19, 2017 [11 favorites]


If you decide to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC, I might suggest that you book tickets for a very early time slot and get in and out before the hordes of giggling, running, and very much oblivious school tours arrive.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:27 AM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Ah hover. I was wondering why I only saw the selfies on mobile.
posted by Phredward at 8:31 AM on January 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


"It's up to you how to behave at a memorial site that marks the death of 6 million people."

As long as it isn't celebrating life?
posted by HFSH at 8:34 AM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Like most German memorials, the Holocaust Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin, is extremely light about saying what, exactly, the memorial is about and how it should make one feel. The architecture itself is supposed to be the message.

It comes down to the question of how much society should cater to those who either cannot or refuse to think. In the old days, the former were consigned to being merely beasts of burden (unless they came from the upper strata, in which they lived their lives out as idle rich), and the latter soon got it drummed into them that that was not acceptable, and one has to make an effort. For better or worse, this is not the case now, so we must in some case accommodate those who are either stupid or choose stupidity. (And to many people, stupidity is a valid choice; for one, it's arguably more fun; the non-stupid miss out on getting belly laughs out of dumb gross-out comedies and such. Or treating the monument to a heavy and depressing thing as a backdrop for selfies.)
posted by acb at 8:34 AM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


I had the opportunity to visit this memorial last year and I had mixed feelings about the kids playing around the outer edges. It would have been more fitting for them to be more quiet and reflective - but I decided it's not a place where I can be angry at kids.

As we walked further in to the memorial area, the ground level slopes gently down and the noise of the city, and of the kids just being kids, dropped away.

I don't know if I took any photos while I was there - the memory of being swallowed up by the blocks as we walked through is permanent-enough.

All that said... All of the people in these photos (and the mouse-over versions, where the more-harrowing imagery lurks) are 100% old enough to know better. I'm not sure if the mouseover images might be a step too far for my tastes, then again maybe they help make the point for the sort of people that don't really "get" what the problem is otherwise.
posted by BuxtonTheRed at 8:36 AM on January 19, 2017 [7 favorites]


That Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is truly a beautiful piece of architecture. In its depths, alone, it's suffocating. Like walking through a cemetery and being surrounded by tombs. Only everything is just a bit wrong. The tombs are inhumanly big. And undecorated, raw concrete. They're not quite square. They are set at slight angles. The sizes are irregular, no two the same. The ground is not even. It's all composed to be intensely unsettling and if you give yourself to it, it's profound.

OTOH it's also an unfenced public park in the middle of Berlin. There's no entrance, you can just wander in from any side. It starts off small, blocks just a foot or two high, you don't have to be suffocated. You can just stroll through a bit. I think it's important it sits in the city, not withdrawn from it, because it makes it part of Berlin daily life. Unfortunately daily life is not compatible with the sober respect required for a Holocaust memorial.

So tourists take selfies. Kids act rowdy and jump between the blocks. Gay men take Grindr profile photos. Humans being humans, I'm sure there has been at least one sexual encounter there between the stelae late at night.

I don't know what to make of that, the juxtaposition of daily humanity and the obscenity of the holocaust. I don't think it works. I think the architect didn't anticipate this problem. But it is what it is now. Yolocaust is an appropriate reflection on that problem.

Germany does have many much more somber Holocaust memorials. It's a 15 minute walk from the Holocaust Memorial to the Topography of Terror museum, a very detailed academic treatment of how the German State turned into a murder machine. The former death camps have been turned in to incredibly effective memorials. Sacshenhausen is 45 minutes away. Auschwitz (in Poland) is completely devastating, I could hardly breathe within minutes of arriving and even now typing this I'm about to cry. Even at Auschwitz teenagers take jaunty selfies and American politicians take awkward tourist photos. I have that same photo of myself from Auschwitz.
posted by Nelson at 8:45 AM on January 19, 2017 [28 favorites]


Hmm... I feel mixed about this. It's pretty appalling that people goof off in a holocaust memorial, but this project's self-righteousness is off putting. We all interact with the atrocities of history, and the present day, with frequency and casual disregard. In my town, there's a popular mall built on top of the remains of a massive shellmound. When you go to the Apple Store, you're literally doing so on top of someone's burial ground. Like any Jewish person with a little knowledge of history, I'm disturbed that someone would not show respect for a site that memorializes the holocaust... but... this is more a reflection of our culture, and a lack of education, and the fact that people march forward whether we want to or not.

After election day, I woke up crying and walked around in a dazed horror for a few weeks. Now, I'm still afraid and angry about Trump, and importantly still protesting and so forth, but I am also going on with my life, laughing, joking, watching TV. It's kind of impossible not not just live.
posted by latkes at 8:51 AM on January 19, 2017 [10 favorites]


Did not feel self-righteous to me at all. That's a feature of one's own projection/interpretation IMO.
posted by Behemoth at 9:05 AM on January 19, 2017 [9 favorites]


Ah hover. I was wondering why I only saw the selfies on mobile.

On my iPad I can click on a modern selfie to reveal the historical composite.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:09 AM on January 19, 2017


Did not feel self-righteous to me at all.

For me the "undouche.me" email address moved it over the line on that.
posted by GuyZero at 9:11 AM on January 19, 2017 [7 favorites]


One thing that struck me when I visited the Eternal Flame in Moscow, which commemorates those who died in Russia during WWII, was just how somber the people there were - pretty much everyone was quiet and reflective, surprisingly so considering A. how people behave at similar monuments in the US in my experience, and B. the fact that it's smack in the middle of the city, just outside of Red Square and the Kremlin.

I don't know if it has to do with the fact that WWII plays a much larger role in Russian history and memory (which it really, really does), the fact that there's a Russian military honor guard at the site at all times (they didn't seem like they would actively shut down any goofing, but it definitely set a certain mood), or just that I happened to be there at a times that people were serious, though.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:12 AM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


For me the "undouche.me" email address moved it over the line on that.

I thought that was a fair judgment. They got caught out, it was their fault and nobody else's, they should cop to it and make some gesture of contrition. Perhaps a wall of public apologies/statements of contrition from people getting their photos removed would have been appropriate.
posted by acb at 9:16 AM on January 19, 2017 [6 favorites]


Thank you for the post. Excellent. Related previous FPP.
posted by Rumple at 9:30 AM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


The guilt of the holocaust is something that must be brought to the site by the visitor.

This seems to me to be a very good philosophy to have when designing a memorial devoted to the Holocaust. Too often the narrative is appropriated (e.g., the movie 'Schindler's List'). The memorial's purpose is not to explain the narrative, since there are literally millions and millions of individual stories to be told.
posted by My Dad at 10:01 AM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


There is a sort of museum there, underground, the "Place of Information" that includes some artifacts, a timeline that lays out the history of the Final Solution, stories about 15 specific Jewish families, and names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims read aloud.

I've spent time in the above-ground portion twice, and if you let it it can be a moving experience. To me, hopping around on the stelae is tantamount to dancing on peoples' graves.
posted by achrise at 10:07 AM on January 19, 2017 [4 favorites]


The architecture itself is supposed to be the message.

On that tangent, in DC the WWII memorial is a great example of failure in architecture. Every summer we get an outrage story about people wading in the pool. The real problem is the design of the memorial itself, it's a bright lively plaza that feels like a celebration not a somber memorial. And in the summer all that exposed granite and concrete turns it into a solar oven making the pool an inviting oasis.
posted by peeedro at 10:12 AM on January 19, 2017 [6 favorites]


I'm reminded of this Titanic themed water slide. While nowhere near comparable in scale, the sinking of the Titanic 105 years ago in a couple months was in its own way an enormously traumatic event, and this is what that global trauma has now been transmuted into over time. Looking through history, the slow forgetting, re-purposing, and trivialization of huge traumatic events over time seems more normal than strange. The fear of brutal Spanish conquest and civil war represented by Guy Fox is now just fireworks and an absurdly stupid movie/mask, the mechanized horrors of WWI and the exhausted relief represented by the date of its end is now just a shopping day, and even the most profound of events like The Great Plague or the 1918 Influenza Pandemic eventually lose cultural relevance and thus their memory in any but the most academic or loosely connected and trivial ways.

Its a thought that is perhaps as existentially alienating as the beautiful architecture of the memorial, but maybe these selfies represent its ultimate fate when our children or their children are no longer around to defend it? I really appreciate this blog if only for the reminder that if memory of the incomprehensible horror that the monument represents is to outlive holocaust jokes, it will be because of the willful efforts of people keeping that memory alive.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:25 AM on January 19, 2017 [5 favorites]


There's always a line that can be crossed, but I think people are far too quick to set that line conservatively.

Is it disrespectful to take a selfie in a somber environment? Leading pundits say yes, but leading pundits don't understand the context of the selfie. Selfies aren't narcissism; they're simply this generation's manner of logging their memories and experiences, similar to non-selfie photos in earlier generations.

So what about these goofier photos? Shouldn't you at least be stoic in this sort of environment? Maybe yes, but then again, maybe no? Many generations ago, graveyards were places to congregate, to enjoy a picnic. You paid your respects, yes, and you respected the dead, but you honored them by enjoying life. How many of these goofballs are Jews? Romani? Queer folk? Perhaps goofing around at the Holocaust Memorial is a way of saying, "you didn't get us all, we'll persevere."

So yeah, some of it may be kids having no clue. But some of it might be intentional, and we just don't understand their motivation. And unfortunately, we're afforded no way of differentiating. But we'll judge all the same, won't we?
posted by explosion at 10:25 AM on January 19, 2017 [26 favorites]


In my experience once you're 3 or 4 rows in from the edge, you'll hardly see anyone at all, and they'll all be reflecting just like you are, and disorientated and slightly overawed and all those other emotions. In some ways, it was such an internal experience, that the fact that people were carrying on as normal just as I walked out added to the disconnect between relaxed normal life and contemplation and empathy and terror.

Because one of the things about a contemplative memorial is that you're so distant from the people you're memorialising, and having people going about their normal life 30 seconds out of you've come in from being lost in another world did not harm my emotional experience of the memorial.
posted by ambrosen at 10:32 AM on January 19, 2017 [4 favorites]


For me the "undouche.me" email address moved it over the line on that.

From my perspective, more than six million people were murdered, and that is going to result in a lot of long-lasting feelings, including anger and rage.

"Yolocaust" is a great name for this project, btw.
posted by My Dad at 10:43 AM on January 19, 2017 [4 favorites]


To me, hopping around on the stelae is tantamount to dancing on peoples' graves.

Way back in 1988, I was with my exchange group visiting East Berlin. At one of the Soviet war memorials (there were a lot of them) outside of a cemetery, some of my classmates climbed up on the base of a statue and took pictures in ridiculous poses. Dumbassed American teenagers, doing dumbassed teenager things in the age of Perestroika and "Tear down this wall!" and the INF Treaty.

The Ossie tour guide was LIVID and tore them to shreds. She told them that they were dishonoring the people buried in that cemetery, and to consider that some of the dead could have been THEIR grandparents instead of hers.

They straightened right up after that. Sometimes, people need a boot to the consciousness.
posted by MissySedai at 11:04 AM on January 19, 2017 [11 favorites]


Missing tags include: narcissism and cringeworthy

The narcissism I cringe at is the assumption that the people behind a site like this, and the people who point and judge at the selfies, have never stood astride some forgotten monument to the dead and done the same damn thing. Do you know and respect every memorial in your city? Do you even know they're there? Do you take pleasure in knowing that you know how to respect the people, places, and things better than others?

Glass houses.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:16 AM on January 19, 2017 [7 favorites]


I can't help fearing this may actually make selfies at the Holocaust memorial a thing. He won't be getting 'undouche' emails, he'll be getting submissions.
posted by Segundus at 11:27 AM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


have never stood astride some forgotten monument to the dead and done the same damn thing

The memorial to the Holocaust, in the city that planned it, is not a generic "some forgotten memorial to the dead."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:37 AM on January 19, 2017 [25 favorites]


have never stood astride some forgotten monument to the dead and done the same damn thing

these selfies are hashtagged and "checked-in" at the holocaust memorial so that point is not valid.

but now i'm interested in learning what memorial you were scolded at.
posted by willie11 at 11:45 AM on January 19, 2017 [8 favorites]


So what about these goofier photos? Shouldn't you at least be stoic in this sort of environment? Maybe yes, but then again, maybe no? Many generations ago, graveyards were places to congregate, to enjoy a picnic. You paid your respects, yes, and you respected the dead, but you honored them by enjoying life. How many of these goofballs are Jews? Romani? Queer folk? Perhaps goofing around at the Holocaust Memorial is a way of saying, "you didn't get us all, we'll persevere."

Except for the death of the author, i.e., the author of the actions has no say in how they will be interpreted by people outside of their immediate context. I.e., you may know that your goofy memorial selfie is about survival and life and joy going on, but someone seeing it on Instagram has no way of differentiating you from a random dickhead.

It's the same problem as ironically making racist jokes which are really punching at racists; even if everyone in the audience is woke AF, all it takes is one iPhone video to make it out where one person can see it out of context, and tell another person, and, guess what: ♪ you're a raaa-cist!♫
posted by acb at 11:50 AM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Do you know and respect every memorial in your city?

Yeah, false equivalence. This is literally the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, not some inviting patch of grass the cadets have to mow every week. But FWIW the folks I saw acting disrespectfully at this memorial were mostly teenagers acting like teenagers; bored and bubbly and willful. It's not a surprise. It's a bit harder for me to forgive the adults making dating profile photos though. I also thought it was tasteless for Sense8 to repurpose it for their TV entertainment.

I do think the place would benefit from some more visual marker for "you are now in a memorial". The way it sits in the block it would be absolutely terrible to have a fence and a gate. And you'd think the giant disturbing tomb blocks would already be enough of a visual cue. But maybe something more would help.

I wish my German were better, I imagine this question has been extensively discussed in Berlin media.
posted by Nelson at 11:56 AM on January 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


This provokes a lot of mixed feelings in me. Very excellent project.

In the last discussion about this, I fell on the side of "stop shaming young people (who are mostly women) for taking selfies. They're young, they're celebrating life. It's not necessarily a bad thing."

But this project makes me rethink that decision. The yoga poses are the most interesting to me. Yoga is a spiritual practice but also a kind of sport, and I can understand the urge to take a photo of yourself doing it to celebrate your accomplishment... and they seem more meditative than the smiling/jumping photos to be sure. And I don't generally believe the idea that selfies are narcissistic. But the whole fact that yoga photos are almost always taken to highlight a young, thin, white, conventionally attractive body performing spirituality/humility in a styled or foreign location kinda encapsulates the ways in which I feel photography these days involves objectifying ourselves, our identity, and our experiences.

edit to add - I think the current political climate has shifted my opinion on this, as well. The dangers of forgetting or trivializing our history are very real.
posted by Emily's Fist at 12:05 PM on January 19, 2017 [12 favorites]


This video is a compilation of people taking selfies and other souvenir photos at Auschwitz, maybe offers some behavioural analogues for Yolocaust.
posted by Rumple at 1:16 PM on January 19, 2017


One of the photos literally tagged themselves as "Jumping on dead Jews @ Holocaust Memorial". Some people make thoughtless mistakes. Some people are horrifying. In the middle, I imagine, are most people - and in Germany during the Holocaust, most people looked the other way.

I'm really glad this project exists.
posted by Mchelly at 1:27 PM on January 19, 2017 [11 favorites]


I probably shouldn’t, but I’ll tell my Pentagon 9/11 memorial story.

In early 2002 I had a friend teaching in Japan, his class folded one thousand origami cranes and mailed them to me to be hung at the somewhere at the Pentagon. So me and two friends made our way to the crash site to find a place to hang the cranes.

At that point there was no official memorial. There was a spot where people were congregating overlooking the site and a small landscaped tree that was the collection point for flowers, candles, and the like. Having no other options, we decided to hang the streamers of cranes from the tree.

It wasn’t simple, we had to pick a path through the flowers to get up to the tree. The cranes were like seven feet long, so to get them high enough we tied some keys to a sting to throw over a branch. Dumb move, the keys got stuck so I had to boost my friend up the tree to get the keys and tie up the cranes.

One friend was taking pictures so we could send the kids in Japan photos of their cranes at the memorial. When he got his photos back (this was back in the film photography days) the pictures of us hanging the cranes were cringe-inducing. We looked like a couple of jackasses goofing around in a memorial, climbing the tree, and having a laugh. The other people in the background were glaring at us, with looks of outrage and disbelief. We were oblivious. We felt so awful we destroyed those photos and the negatives.
posted by peeedro at 1:30 PM on January 19, 2017 [10 favorites]


I kinda blundered all the way to the bottom without mousing-over any of the selfies, and was like -- "Crass, but that's people for y... ohhhh damn."

Harsh.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:26 PM on January 19, 2017 [4 favorites]


At the ripe old age of 32 I found myself in Berlin and experiencing a distinct "get off my lawn" moment while trying to contain my rage at the non-german/non-english speaking teenagers who were running back and forth through the pillars as I tried to take in the Holocaust Memorial. I also remember how weird I felt taking a (non-selfie) picture from within the structure, but I also couldn't stop myself from wanting to capture the visual.

So, I get the motivation behind this site.

But, I also remember how much my opinion of Lindsay Stone changed after hearing Jon Ronson's telling of her story.

I think that the worst possible outcome here would be the Internet Shame Machine aiming itself at the subjects of these photos, so I'm glad there appears to be an easy method to request takedowns. Actually, it would be better if Yolocaust took down the 'shops automagically when the original photos were no longer available on Instagram (or whatever the source was).

There's also the question of what we want/expect when we create public art. When everyone who has ever met anyone who ever met a Holocaust survivor or victim is gone from this world, and the Memorial is still standing, can we say that the future people are "wrong" for using it in the (non-destructive) ways that work for them?
posted by sparklemotion at 2:56 PM on January 19, 2017


I have mixed emotions about this project. I both get the outrage and simultaneously I feel like its a little B.S.y, or maybe a little bit too shocked by the behaviors it shames. After all isn't it a little insidious to craft something that makes some of us feel smug and adult as if we have done something positive merely by thinking of ourselves as not rude and disrespectful but others as? The number of people who will cluck cluck at some safely beyond the bounds behavior is huge compared to the number of people who will DO something that actually matters. The fact is genocide takes place today and very few people try to do ANYTHING about it. Maybe the project makes us feel better but I see nothing in it to make sure the exhortation "never again" becomes true.
posted by Pembquist at 4:12 PM on January 19, 2017 [4 favorites]


This is literally the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

In 50 years' time, there will be a band named “The Murdered Jews of Europe”. They'll sound like the 2060s equivalent of The Decemberists or Franz Ferdinand or someone.
posted by acb at 4:41 PM on January 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


I feel a similar twitch every time I see people taking duck face selfies by the reflecting pools at Ground Zero. It just seems so wrong.

my god they're absolutely ruining the gravitas of the site that sells a $68 9/11-branded dog leash

“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.”
posted by Going To Maine at 5:06 PM on January 19, 2017


In 50 years' time, there will be a band named “The Murdered Jews of Europe”.

If the people photographed turn out to be time travelers from the 2060s, I do hereby forgive them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:28 PM on January 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


This idea comes up in the last Black Mirror episode of the most recent season, "Hated in the Nation." The Twittersphere calls for the head of a girl who took a picture pretending to pee on a monument. The episode causes you to think about what is a proportionate response to a one-off mistake by a stranger on social media.
posted by HoteDoge at 6:38 PM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


This would also be the theme of Jon Ronson's latest book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:41 PM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


The narcissism I cringe at is the assumption that the people behind a site like this, and the people who point and judge at the selfies, have never stood astride some forgotten monument to the dead and done the same damn thing. Do you know and respect every memorial in your city? Do you even know they're there? Do you take pleasure in knowing that you know how to respect the people, places, and things better than others?

Glass houses.


FYI, I've had several conversations with the person you responding. Conversations where they've talked about the absolute love they have of their city and its various architectural elements, styles and specific places. They've even talked about the important of witnessing certain acts and things, stuff people usually just walk around and ignore.

In short, you're probably responding to one of the few people who could honestly answer "yes" to all your questions. But you'll never know that because you're too busy stumbling around and breaking glass houses.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:10 PM on January 19, 2017 [4 favorites]


In 50 years' time, there will be a band named “The Murdered Jews of Europe”. They'll sound like the 2060s equivalent of The Decemberists or Franz Ferdinand or someone.

See also Dschinghis Khan and their eponymous Eurovision song. The man's wars resulted in the deaths of approximately 40 million people (10% of the world's population), but time makes all tragedy banal.

As a human, Jew, and descendant of Germans who fled the Nazis (but as a spokesman for none), I don't find these images shocking or offensive. I don't care to repudiate their subjects. I have no conviction that they are bad or ill-intentioned people, incapable of understanding suffering. I have myself seen people clown it up at memorials and cry after (not that sorrow is the goal).

I am offended by those who shed crocodile tears for the Jews, instrumentalizing the Holocaust when their actions say: "Yes, again."
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 7:37 PM on January 19, 2017 [9 favorites]


The narcissism I cringe at is the assumption that the people behind a site like this, and the people who point and judge at the selfies, have never stood astride some forgotten monument to the dead and done the same damn thing.

I have never, and would never, do that. Then again, I am An Old who reads the plaques and would rather photograph things other than myself.
posted by 41swans at 7:47 PM on January 19, 2017 [4 favorites]



I feel a similar twitch every time I see people taking duck face selfies by the reflecting pools at Ground Zero. It just seems so wrong.

my god they're absolutely ruining the gravitas of the site that sells a $68 9/11-branded dog leash


I brought some Colombian guests to Ground Zero in 2006 when it was still a hole in the ground and they took some cheery memento pics in front of a gaping hole where thousands had died only five years before. I was pretty horrified tbh.
posted by zutalors! at 8:39 PM on January 19, 2017


The premise is perfect but the use of the photos of the dead next to the idiots makes me deeply uncomfortable in a way that doesn't seem intended. Yes, we get that they're douches, but that seems unnecessary. It just feels like more exploitation and insensitivity in the name of being punk rock (or something-it just reminds me of 80s photocollages) about their stupidity. It just feels really wrong.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 9:40 PM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


I have to say that it is brilliantly done though.

But seriously, people did YOGA POSES there???? Holy hell.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 9:46 PM on January 19, 2017


To be honest, I find the use of actual Holocaust imagery to shame people for not being suitable respectful at a Holocaust monument to be more rage inducing than the actual disrespect. It's smug and crass in its moral judgment and is wasted energy in a world in which people taking selfies at Auschwitz is the least of our troubles.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:52 PM on January 19, 2017 [6 favorites]


people taking selfies at Auschwitz is the least of our troubles.

People taking selfies at Auschwitz is a symptom of thoughtlessness and/or callousness, and it's likely that a lot more suffering and misery come from the aggregated actions of millions of thoughtless/callous people than from active wickedness. (It follows from Hanlon's Razor.) As such, a gentle but firm doing-over with a cluebat is probably not a bad thing.
posted by acb at 4:30 AM on January 20, 2017 [5 favorites]


As long as it isn't celebrating life?

They're not celebrating life. They're celebrating themselves.

"Yeah yeah six million but LOOK AT ME!"
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:27 AM on January 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


I find the memorial itself to be a staggeringly brilliant conception. It doesn't preach, impose a narrative, but it imposes nonetheless. In situ, I have not found the inevitable horse play and fooling around to be off colour. Honestly, you need a tenuous link to life as you walk through the blocks. I can see how the project might shock or offend, but, similar to the monument, it sort of leaves the responsibility for offence or profound consideration to you, the viewer.
posted by stonepharisee at 5:33 AM on January 21, 2017


I've not visited, but I remember reading about this memorial and how affecting the gradual descent was even just being described. Reading other comments about the artist, I wonder if the abstractness and accessibility of the outer blocks is on purpose.

What I think bothers me about this page is that it's doing (for want of a better word) a "gotcha!" moment, but muddling up the personal eye opener version of that with the public mockery version. The rollover images are needling the individuals taking the photos very directly, but to the audience it's taking a symbolic disrespect and shopping it to make it even more real. There must be other ways to rebuke the action without employing the victims.
posted by lucidium at 7:50 PM on January 21, 2017


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