A few days ago I came across this blog article on the website for the LA Times, describing how the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art has purchased a Zbigniew Libera’s ‘Lego’ concentration camp, which was initially assembled and displayed in 1996. It has been garnering acclaim and critiques ever since. On the one hand it was unsuccessfully blocked by Lego and successfully banned from the Venice Biennale. On the other hand it has the Jewish Museum of New York’s stamp of approval, as it was displayed during their 2002 exhibition “Mirroring Evil”.
Which is why I cannot seem to decide how I feel, first about the piece even being created, and second how I feel about the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art acquiring it.
I am not entirely sure how to react to this decision in all honesty. Separate and apart from my questioning Lego creations as legitimate museum-worthy works, I wonder at the appropriateness of the move. On the hand it seems as if Libera is making light of an international atrocity and losses that are still raw for many people nearly seventy years later. On the other hand, if the unorthodox treatment of the subject causes, if anything, serious debate rather than mockery, isn’t that for the best? On the third hand, what does it say about our perception of the Holocaust that it takes a construction of Legos to renew the discourse. On the fourth hand…and oh look, I ran out of hands already. I suppose in the end, it is a matter of trying to consolidate or unite hands. Clasping them.
Or wringing them, I still haven’t quite decided.