History of Communism in Europe

Volume 6, 2015

(Dis)Embedding. The Institutionalization of the Social Memory of Totalitarian Pasts

Ewa Janisz
Pages 113-134

Atrocity and Aesthetics
The Politics of Remembering and Representing the Holocaust in Polish Contemporary Art: Zbigniew Libera’s “Lego Concentration Camp”

This paper discusses the politics of remembering and the representation of the Holocaust in Polish contemporary art referring to the Lego Concentration Camp (1996) by Zbigniew Libera. The paper presents the ways in which Libera’s work challenges the traditional ways of representing the Holocaust and how it engages with issues such as the relation between atrocity and aesthetics. The associations brought to this mode of representation by the notions of game and toys and whether theatricality and play are in dialogue with or violate the historical experience of the Holocaust is also discussed. The paper investigates the specificity of the Polish context in the way the Holocaust is approached and the reactions these artistic attempts raise in the public. Do the unconventional and shocking representations help understand the Holocaust or do they create the opposite effect of misguided and trivialised reading of history?