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Monumental Attack: The Visual Tools of the German Counter-Monument in Two Works by Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz, and Horst Hoheisel

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This essay argues that iconoclasm serves as the visual tool of choice for Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz in their Memorial Against Fascism (1986) and for Horst Hoheisel in his Negative Form (1987). The West German historians’ debate of the late 1980s established an image prohibition by framing the representation of the Holocaust as an unimaginable and sacred event. The Counter-Monuments rely on this ban on images. They attack monumentality and visibility as both fascist and capitalist characteristics, designated as such during the Cold War. The essay argues that the formal choices inherent in conceptualizing these two Counter-Monuments comprise familiar historical modes of iconoclasm. It ultimately questions the need to rely on iconoclasm in the Counter-Monuments and contemporary German memorialization of the Holocaust.


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