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]
(September 2021 - December 2022)
A critical project concerning post-war artist Joseph Beuys
Created by Joseph Sassoon Semah, curator Linda Bouws
© Stichting Metropool Internationale Kunstprojecten

In 2021/22 the 100th anniversary of the birth of artist Joseph Beuys will be celebrated in Europe, among others with the special event 'Beuys 2021. 100 years'. Twelve cities and twenty institutes in Noordrijn Westfalen in Germany will be organizing exhibitions, theatre and other activities to celebrate this anniversary. (see for more info Joseph Heinrich Beuys (1921, Krefeld- 1986, Dusseldorf) is one of the most influential German post-war artists, who became particularly famous for his performances, installations, lectures and Fluxus concerts. But who was Beuys truly? Joseph Beuys mythologized his war history as a National Socialist and Germany's problematic and post-traumatic past. After Word War ll Beuys transformed himself from perpetrator to victim. His service in the Luftwaffe did not offset his artistic practice. During this 100-years event none of these controversial aspects of Beuys' work, values and ideas are focused upon. As part of this celebration it is high time to add a more critical eye on Beuys' work and his relationship to Germany's post-war history.

ON FRIENDSHIP... / OVER VRIENDSCHAP... (31 oktober 2020 t/m 19 september 2021)

Exile, hospitality and friendship are key themes in the work of Joseph Sassoon Semah (b. 1948, Baghdad). In 1950 he and his parents were forced to leave Iraq for Israel, and Joseph eventually arrived in Amsterdam in 1981, via London, Berlin and Paris. On Friendship ... will for the first time bring together 36 architectural models of houses, a synagogue, schools and cultural buildings made by Sassoon Semah that refer to the liberal Jewish culture of his Babylonian ancestors - a culture which, he says, barely exists except in memory now.


In 2015 Metropool International Art Projects initiated and produced the artistic-philosophical project On Friendship/(Collateral Damage) in which the claim of the Judeo-Christian origins of European civilisation is questioned. In 2017 the follow-up On Friendship/(Collateral Damage) II: The Guardians of the Door took place at De Nieuwe Kerk, Stedelijk Museum, Joods Historisch Museum  and Goethe-Institut in Amsterdam, an artistic critical project on Luther and 500 years of Reformation. On Friendship/(Collateral Damage) III - The Third GaLUT: Baghdad, Jerusalem, Amsterdam is part of this multiannual project.


On Friendship / (Collateral Damage) II - The Guardians of the Door (June 22 2017 - January 2018)

During his long-term project On Friendship / (Collateral Damage) in which he collaborates with Metropool International Art Projects / Studio Meritis MaKOM (Linda Bouws), the main question is how western art and culture are presented and why. In Part 1 (2015) Semah searches for the specific Jewish implications in Kazimir Malevich's (The Black Square) and Barnett Newman's work, and also critically researches the claim by a growing group of people that refer to the Jewish-Christian origin of European culture. Through his lawyer Bob Vink, Semah makes contact with Beatrix Ruf, director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and asks her to account for the 'empty page' in art history on behalf of the art world.


On Friendship / (Collateral Damage)

23-25 October 2015

The project will deal with the topic of Western history of art and its Judeo-Christian roots; is this hypothesis tenable, defensible or does it require an adjustment? Joseph Semah and representatives of museums, art and culture discussed profoundly one of the most significant questions concerning art historical research: the search for coherence in making works of art, and what this consistency means for contemporary thought on art historical research.  Read more......


Amsterdam of Above / Amsterdam of Below

Site-specific art created to celebrate Felix Meritis 225th anniversary, 2013

Location: The Observatory of Felix Meritis, Keizersgracht 324, and in the city of Amsterdam.

Please note: only from the Observatory of Felix Meritis, Amsterdam (the area where the 4x optical telescopes were installed), blue neon lit citations are visible on remarkable buildings all over the city.

The Observatory of Felix Meritis, Keizersgracht 324, Amsterdam:

Granite - black galaxy (The carving depicts in a mirror image, the design of the Amsterdam Canal District), 4 x bronze casted tripods + 4x optical telescopes Height 170 cm. (Deel III van III)

72 Privileges [A second chance]:

'It is precisely this balance between exile and the emotion of the privileged which forms the unique originality of our Breathing in Reverse. As will be clear already, there is no past or future in Exile, only an immediate present'. 2012
Kochi-MuzirisBiennale 2012 /2013, India

72 Privileges [.....]: 'It is precisely this balance between exile and the emotion of the privileged which forms the unique originality of our Breathing in Reverse. As will be clear already, there is no past or future in Exile, only an immediate present'.
Tracing Martin Heidegger's hut and Paul Celan's clouds, 2011

Autobiographical Memory 2007

In de liftschacht van Felix Meritis verschijnt een 'geweven kunstwerk van neon' met de grote namen uit de geschiedenis van Felix Meritis uit het verleden tot en met heden. Het kunstwerk, een verankering van namen in spiegelbeeld in neon op de bakstenen, plaatst de geschiedenis van het gebouw tegen twee eeuwen hoofdstedelijke culturele, sociale, politieke en economische ontwikkeling.

Prominente figuren uit diverse departementen van Felix Meritis worden zo vereeuwigd.

Dit kunstwerk legt niet alleen het geheugen van het gebouw en haar bezoekers vast en van de stad Amsterdam en haar internationale positie. Het vormt ook een soort canon, een culturele, typografische atlas van Amsterdam. (Deel II van III)

Echo / Echo, Kunst in Kirchen Raum geben, Hannover, Germany 1993

Echo / Echo is a site specific art work in memory of the synagogue which was built next to the Ev.- Luth. Neustädter Hof- und Stadtkirche St. Johannis, Hannover.

The main synagogue of Hannover was destroyed during the Kristallnacht pogrom, 10.11.1938. The main synagogue of Hannover, architect: the German-Jewish Edwin Oppler (1831-80), inaugurated 1870.
Closed/ Open: "After Sovereignty, Fear, Hospitality and Friendschip"; Between remembering and retelling (1989). (Deel I van III)
Letter image and mother-tongue

A mountain and its blue shadow 1987
Beyond performance SeFeR Yetzirah 1985