GOETHE-INSTITUT AMSTERDAM, Herengracht 470, Amsterdam
28 October 2021 - 7 January 2022 Joseph Sassoon Semah - Exhibition On Friendship / (Collateral Damage) IV
28 October 2021, 20.00 pm, Performance, happening planting an oak, and Meeting Mati Shemoelof (Poet, Author, Editor, Journalist, Berlin, & Joseph Sassoon Semah
An exhibition with a lot of new work was organised on all floors of the Goethe-Institut. In Goethe Institut Amsterdam Joseph Sassoon Semah also presented a new monumental installation entitled On Friendship / (Collateral Damage) IV - How to Explain Hare Hunting to a Dead German Artist [The usefulness of continuous measurement of the distance between Nostalgia and Melancholia], 2021, a large wooden scale-model of Auschwitz Gate with square tower and characteristic double passage is 200 centimeters wide and is supported by part of the eight rhythmically placed trestles, which are extended over a length of 350 centimeters. It is only at a second glance that the viewer realizes that there is - optically - a partly hidden counterpoint in the expanding composition. In the free space between the second and third trestle, a bronze hare with its head protruding has been placed over two cross-braces of the trestles. The isolated, vulnerable and defenseless hare, whose poignant significance in the days of fascism. Against the wall on the right there are additional auxiliary troops in the form of two folded trestles.
The neon light linked to the hare plays a key role, both associatively and emotionally, in evoking the camp in an atmospheric way. The harsh, cold light refers to the cool, morbid and industrial character of Auschwitz. The mass slaughter of people took place in cold blood. In addition, the English word tube, also meaning tunnel, hints at the hare's lair. On the other hand, it recalls the supply of gas. Bathed in cool blue light, the evocatively floating hare, as if it were frozen in time, has formidable expressiveness in relation to the robust, clinical-looking, compact gateway to hell on earth. (source: Rick Vercauteren)
A discussion about the creative activities of Joseph Beuys adhere to Eurocentric culture in general and to post-war German culture in particular. And yet, what will happen when two Iraqi Jews, i.e. Babylonian Jews - who live in two European capitals, Berlin and Amsterdam, respectively - decided to deconstruct Beuys' post war art production? Most of the research on Joseph Beuys artistic activity has been generated by theories concerning Eurocentric culture, values and experiences, however this time we had the opportunity to hear other voices, a different reading that criticizes Beuys' work.
In the pause of the meeting the action of planting an oak tree took place. On 24 February a stone from Jerusalem was placed next to the oak. Joseph Sassoon Semah wanted to create a real new convent with God. Not the God of the scripture, but the spiritual one. He reclaimed the Jewish symbols which Beuys appropriated and re-created a new symbolic order in the landscape of Europe. It is both an artistic moment and a spiritual one, both happening here on European ground.
Joseph Sassoon Semah with friends Goethe-Institut, Amsterdam, 28-10-202
Mati Shemoelof A Babylonian Jew Named Joseph Sassoon Semah Goethe-Institut, Amsterdam, 28-10-2021
The Oaktree and the stone from Jerusalem in the garden of Goethe-Institut Amsterdam.
Joseph Sassoon Semah re-claimed the Jewish symbols which Beuys appropriated and re-created a
new symbolic order.
[The usefulness of continuous measurement of the distance between Nostalgia and Melancholia] 2021
10 saw-horses, a wooden model of the main gate into the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, bronze
hare, light tube, white bands, 110 cm height
Metropool International Art Projects
Contact: Linda Bouws
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