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Holocaust survivor dances, controversy ensues

posted by Amanda Kaplan

“Dancing Auschwitz” has reappeared on the internet not a year after its release in December of 2009, catching the attention of The Atlantic and New York Magazine for starters. Unfortunately, it “has resurfaced at the center of a trans-Atlantic controversy.” Haaretz reports:

Australian Jewish artist Jane Korman filmed her three children and her father, 89-year-old Holocaust survivor Adolk, in the video clip “I Will Survive: Dancing Auschwitz.”

The clip depicted the Korman family dancing in front of Holocaust land marks in Poland, including infamous entrance sign to Auschwitz death camp reading “Arbeit Macht Frei,” a Polish synagogue, Dachau, Theresienstadt, and a memorial in Lodz.

Her father at one point in the clip even wore a shirt on which the word “Survivor” was written.

During a recent family visit to Israel Korman said that she thought of the idea after she encountered hatred toward Israel and Jews in Australia and added that she wanted to give her concerns presence during the heritage tour of Poland she recently took with her family, and take a different approach to the matter.

Many Jewish survivors have reacted gravely to the video, accusing her of disrespect. Yet Korman told Australian daily The Jewish News that “it might be disrespectful, but he [her father] is saying ‘we’re dancing, we should be dancing, we’re celebrating our survival and the generations after me,’ – the generation he’s created. We are affirming our existence.”

Read more of the artist’s defense, or check out the video below:

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One Response to “Holocaust survivor dances, controversy ensues”

  1. avatar Penny Edgell says:

    One of the most important understudied features of how culture works is the way that aesthetics become laden with moral connotations. Group style, cultural preferences (music, hair, clothes, humor)—this is the specific cultural material that makes symbolic boundaries real, that lend depth and strength to identity, that people respond to on a visceral level. I “get” this video and I like it, but I understand 100% why some are outraged.

    In all the new emphasis on a sociology-of-morality, this aesthetic dimension is almost completely neglected, along with work on the embodied and emotional nature of cognition. We should do more, and better, to understand the cultural politics and social science of the aesthetic.

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