University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies
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CHGS

  • Pier Marton

    Pier Marton

    Pier Marton was born in Paris in 1950 to parents who were in the French Resistance during World War II.  He received a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Illinois Arts Council. Marton has established an edge in film-making by exploring television imagery and text, issues of male self-identification, violence, general conditioning, and the memory of the Holocaust among children of survivors.

    Artist Statement

    AFTER ALL (50 years later)

    ". . . only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation be safely built." - Bertrand Russell, 1923

    Me too, I would rather not look.
    Too much familiarity, my grandmother was
    murdered.

    In my body. Zyklon gas was an improved
    form of killing.

    Do I, like a drunk pleading to forget, engage with the digital modernity? TV brain lures with stories and theories, sensation when there is none.

    The body is missing. I work on TV,
    taming it before it lulls me. Each cut, a wake to awake.

    It takes repetition, the killing was repeated.
    Is repeated. Over.

    - Pier Marton, 5754/1994

    Artworks: Witness and Legacy

    Jew

    Pier Marton
    Jew, 1985 Installation (detail)

    The Germans never imposed the word "JEW" on English speakers as Marton depicted it, but did use "JUDE" for German Jews, "JUIF" for French, and "JOOD" for Flemish and Dutch. In the English version the "W" looks very much like the Hebrew letter "shin," which is a symbol for the name of God.

    Jew

    Pier Marton
    Jew, 1985 Installation (detail)

    Some of the visitors' comments reflect serious issues about prejudice and racism, and the memory of the Holocaust, while others may be banal. That visitors can write on the walls suggest that the installation is constantly evolving into something new, an artistic space for dialogue.

    Jew

    Pier Marton
    Jew, 1985 Installation (detail)

    A detail of the installation wall from St. Paul. Photos are those of people depicted in the film, "Say I'm a Jew."

    Jew

    Pier Marton
    Jew, 1985 Installation (detail)

    A viewer's response suggests that it is not merely the question of the actions of the perpetrators, but also the inaction of the onlookers that makes such events happen.

    Jew

    Pier Marton
    Jew, 1985 Installation (detail)

    Viewer responses.

    Jew

    Pier Marton
    Jew, 1985 Installation (detail)

    Viewer responses.

    Jew

    Pier Marton
    Jew, 1985 Installation (detail)

    The artist's mother, a Holocaust survivor, writes her response on the wall next to the deportation car.

    Jew Pier Marton
    Jew, 1985 Installation (detail)
    Jew

    Pier Marton
    Jew, 1985 Installation (detail)

    The artist uses a simulated deportation car for viewers to see the film about the second generation. This idea came from a visit to Auschwitz, where he walked down a corridor and found himself after a sharp turn in a gas chamber.

    Jew

    Pier Marton
    Jew, 1985 Installation (detail)

    This artistic work will never bring the viewer into the same situation as being a victim. However, seeing "Say I'm a Jew" in the close quarters of the box car, on seats that resemble mourning benches or standing, one develops a sense of claustrophobia and isolation of the victims.

    Jew Pier Marton
    Jew - Responses, 1985 Installation
    Jew Pier Marton
    Jew, 1985 Installation
    Jew Pier Marton
    Jew - Responses, 1985 Installation (detail)
    Jew Pier Marton
    Jew - Responses, 1985 Installation (detail)

    Page updated 2013.