Cruising Eisenman's Holocaust Memorial
Valentina Rozas Krause
(University of California, Berkeley)
Paper short abstract:
This paper unveils the meaning around the profile pictures from gay dating sites of young men posing with the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, in order to understand how these pictures redefine the Holocaust Memorial and redraw the boundaries between everyday practices and mourning
Paper long abstract:
Profile pictures from gay dating sites of young men posing with the stelae of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe in Berlin have been subject to an art exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York and a tribute online blog. The sexual poses and flirtatious gazes of the depicted individuals contrast with the solemn and abstract Memorial designed by New York-based American architect Peter Eisenman. Provocative and insulting to some, these pictures redefine the meaning and interpretation of the Memorial. For some supporters it creates a new kind of commemoration, while for its critics it is an indecorous subversion. This paper unveils the meaning of these pictures on this particular site, in an effort to understand why these men chose to portray themselves at the Holocaust Memorial in order to cruise the digital sphere of gay dating websites. In three consecutive sections, the paper asserts that, on the one hand, the conversion of the Holocaust Memorial into a cruising scenario is facilitated by a design that —putting forward autonomy and abstraction— allows and even invites its constant resignification in terms of everyday practices. And, on the other hand, it posits that the images exhibited at the Jewish Museum can be interpreted as a performative memorial, which reinscribes sexuality and gender into Holocaust narratives.
Gendered realities: old issues, new heritage