German Art Museum Opens “Jew In A Box” Exhibit

Ausstellung "die ganze Wahrheit ... was Sie schon immer über Juden wissen wollten"

Yea, something about this just isn’t right:

There are fewer than 200,000 Jews living in Germany today, out of a total population of 82 million — meaning that few Germans have any first-hand understanding of Jewish culture. But an exhibit at Berlin’s Jewish Museum that attempts to combat that lack of knowledge is causing quite a stir regardless.

The show, entitled ‘The Whole Truth,’ consists of a Jewish man or woman, seated inside a glass box, answering visitors’ questions for two hours about Jewish life and culture.

The exhibition was inspired by the many questions left in the museum’s visitors book since 2001, which the curators stripped down to the thirty most commonly asked questions. These vary from politically incorrect questions about common Jewish stereotypes to a simple matter of wanting to know how to become a Jew.

For the Jewish Museum’s curators the point of the exhibition is to “confront various questions about Judaism and being Jewish.” Below the box a line of text reads, “Are there still Jews in Germany?”

But reactions to the exhibition, which also includes other installations and displays, have been decidedly mixed. Speaking with the Associated Press, Stephan Kramer, a prominent figure in the Berlin Jewish community, asked, “Why don’t they give him a banana and a glass of water, turn up the heat and make the Jew feel really cozy in his glass box?” Kramer said he was approached to participate but turned the offer down. Others too have described the exhibition as “degrading” and not helpful to German-Jewish relations.

Apparently, it’s all been given the name “Jew In A Box” over in Germany. This doesn’t strike me as a way to spread understanding and tolerance.

Photo via Time

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. matt bernius says:

    Apparently, it’s all been given the name “Jew In A Box” over in Germany. This doesn’t strike me as a way to spread understanding and tolerance.

    I think that’s part of the artistic concept to this (which I actually think is pretty brilliant).

    The entire set up clearly has an underlying “shame the audience”/confrontational street theatre component to it (which apparently was completely lost on Mr. Kramer).

  2. @matt bernius:

    Ah yes modern “art.” Requires little thought and even less talent.

  3. JKB says:

    Below the box a line of text reads, “Are there still Jews in Germany?”

    Ah, not many, because the last time a Jew was put in a box in Germany it didn’t turn out well for the Jew.

    What’s next ‘Jew on a train’?

  4. rudderpedals says:

    Lighten up, Francis, it’s a museum. You know who else couldn’t “get” modern art?

  5. LC says:

    Ah yes modern “art.” Requires little thought and even less talent.

    @Doug Mataconis: Kind of like churning out 50 blog posts a day that manage to not say anything of value or substance.

  6. Anderson says:

    Up next at the Tel Aviv art museum, “German in a Box.”

    I live in Jackson, MS, so let me try to think what parallel exhibition we could offer.

  7. matt bernius says:

    BTW, note that this is an exhibit being put on by the *JEWISH MUSEUM*. I somehow suspect that they may have more than a few Jews involved with running the show there.

    And despite cracks at Modern Art, the fact is that this is generating a useful controversy (one that spurs conversation and introspection). And also makes the country uncomfortable about its still all too recent history.

  8. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    BTW, note that this is an exhibit being put on by the *JEWISH MUSEUM*. I somehow suspect that they may have more than a few Jews involved with running the show there.

    Actually the guy responsible used to be United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Jimmy Carter. So you might want to take this up with the U.S. :D.

    And fwiw it’s “Jews in a showcase”, not “Jew In A Box”. Details here.

  9. rodney dill says:

    He’s probably thinking, “I wish they’d stop playing this Pop goes The Weasel music, Oy.”

  10. JKB says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Doug, you obviously don’t have a BA in fine art. With that and $4, you can serve someone a finely crafted latte.

    In the past, artists suffered for their art. With modern art, the public suffers.

  11. rodney dill says:

    The next exhibit along the same vein will feature Dick Cheney.

  12. PJ says:

    @rodney dill:

    The next exhibit along the same vein will feature Dick Cheney.

    With the slight difference that Dick Cheney will be sitting above a dunk tank.

    (Now I guess I could add that Cheney would either be held under water for a number of seconds when he goes into the tank or that the water would be electrified, but I’m way too classy to suggest anything like that…)

  13. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Ah yes modern “art.” Requires little thought and even less talent. ”

    Now there’s a comment worthy of Tsar Nicholas. Nothing like standing up on a table and screaming “I’m completely ignorant and I’m damn proud of it!”

  14. rodney dill says:

    @PJ: I was just punning off an SNL skit… You thought I meant something serious? Since you’re ‘classy’ at least you have something going for you.

  15. jd says:

    @rodney dill: “The next exhibit along the same vein will feature Dick Cheney.”

    “LGBT Ally in a Box”?