The interrelations between Israel and Germany are indeed complex and intertwined. The art, culture and politics of both nations are embedded one in another while relating one to another in overt and hidden ways. As in the way George Bataille (1897-1962) describes the strange familiarity formed between the aggressor and his victim, so it seems that both nations are merged and reflected one in another respectively.
The Ger-mania conference – taking place at Bezalel Academy for Art and Design in May 2008 – aimed fore and foremost to shed light on the weave of interrelations between Israel and Germany, while focusing on the somehow neglected field of art, and especially on art created in both nations in the last two decades. As opposed to the ideological, social and political aspects of the interrelations between both nations – that have been explored rather widely in recent years – a great deal of art works, that reflect a different aspect of those reciprocal interrelations, have not yet been deciphered properly. Only a minor amount of researches written in Israel having Germany in view tried to understand the way trauma is reflected in art. Although notions such as the Holocaust, commemoration and memory, naturally populate the sheets of the 15th issue of History & Theory Protocols, an effort was made to focus on art and culture created in Israel and Germany in the last decades.
Thus, our main interest revolved around questions such as how Israeli art deals with Germany today; What is the scope of influence of German culture on young Israeli society; What are the main changes that took place in the modes of representation of Germany in Israeli culture during the last decades; And how art in Israel and Germany confront the highly tensioned issues of Nazism and the Holocaust. Apart of those fundamental questions, concern was also devoted to examine the conceptual interrelations between Israeli, Jewish and German intellectuals, as well as for tracking the impact of leading post-war German artists on Israeli art.
The articles appearing in the Ger-mania issue of History & Theory: Protocols are separated into a couple of sections. Needless to say, the issue is devoted at large to the examination of art made in both nations, and mainly to contemporary art: Moshe Zuckermann* deals with the traces of the Holocaust in Israeli art; Batya Brutin* deals with the overt and hidden elements of the work of second generation Israeli artists. Haim Ma’or* – a second generation artist himself – describes the complex interrelations between victim and aggressor as they appear in his own work.
Aside of dealing with the Holocaust’s presence in Israeli art, another section of articles is devoted to the interrelations between German and Israeli artists. Gideon Ofrat* focuses on the art of Joseph Bodko, created in Palestine during the 30s. Raquel Rapaport deals with the work of the Jewish-German architect Erich Mendelsohn. Tal Dekel* tracks down the influence the German artist Kathe Kollwitz had on Ruth Schloss. Kobi Ben-Meir* examines the influence of Joseph Beuys on Israeli artists during the 1970s. Dana Mills* gives an account on the modes of representation of the Holocaust in contemporary Israeli dance. Shoshana-Rose Marzel* examines the linkage between fashion and the Holocaust. And finally, Régine-Mihal Friedman seeks to analyze the way the film maker Malte Ludin copes with the complex history of his family.
The philosophical section holds articles of Adi Efal, dealing with German art historians Panofsky and Auerbach, and of Sandra Lehman, that inquires the limits of state and nation in the thought of Rosenzweig and Hegel. The closing section is devoted to the topic of post-war commemoration and representation: Aviv Livnat* explores the complex relations between memory and spaces of commemoration in Germany as well as in Israel. Dana Arieli-Horowitz examines the fate of the remains of Nazi architecture in German cities today. Irit Dekel unfolds the story of the coming into being of the memorial for the Jewish community in Berlin.
This issue is also rich with body of works of artists such as Boaz Arad and Roee Rosen, dealing both with Third Reich symbols, which their manifestation in Israeli art has rather increased in the past decade. Complex aspects of memory, documentation and commemoration are manifested in the works of Simha Shirman, Gilad Ophir and Yoav Horesh. Alon Confino shares with us his impressions of the audiowalk which takes part in the Gusen, in Austria. The former concentration camp which is today invisible stood at the heart of Christoph Mayer creation. Dror Pimentel tries to find out what the yellow patch has to do with the work of Ido Poritzky. Another project "contemporary Fairytales" by the German artist Cornellia Renz was completed during 2006-2009. The galleriest Lushi studies eight of Ren'z images all dealing with the history and interpretation of German Fairytales.
The issue is supplemented with critical pieces by Aim-Deuelle Luski on the recent exhibition of George Schneider at the Herzlia Museum; by Dudi Brailovsky on Guy raz’s exhibition Terezin League; and by Dror Pimentel on a play of Yagil Eliraz – A.H. Before he Changed our History.
Dana Arieli-Horowitz and Dror Pimentel
* Articles in Hebrew. English abstract is included.