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Self-Portraits of a Holocaust Artist
Judith Weinshall Liberman
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This series consists of about 150 small works in which I place myself in Holocaust settings in an effort to explore my emotional relationship to the subject of the Shoah. The series was begun in 1997. The works in the series cover a broad spectrum of approaches from straight acrylic block printing and painting to the use of actual photographs from the Holocaust. I have been particularly hesitant to exhibit those Self Portraits in which I use photographs of victims of the Holocaust and superimpose the image of my own face over the face of one of the victims. This act of superimposition inevitably required a physical obliteration of the underlying victim's face. It seemed ironic that in trying to express my sense of identification with victims of the Holocaust, I ended up obliterating their identity, just as the Holocaust aimed to do. Yet I was keenly aware of the process whereby I had come to do so. When I studied photographs from the Holocaust, even where masses of people appeared, I found myself focusing on one individual and through that one individual I was emotionally transported into the setting. Superimposing my own image on a victim's face constituted a record of my emotional journey. I not only remembered the victims but never forgot that "there, but for the grace of God, go I…"