Gentle Hitler meek and mild appears, a statue kneeling in prayer, as you peer through a hole in a wall at the site of the Warsaw ghetto. It’s an art installation.

Art journals dredge up the dead language people dredge up on occasions such as this. The artist’s work “reveal[s] contradictions at the core of today‚Äôs society.”

Praying little boy Hitler (We can look forward to praying little boy Pol Pot in the killing fields, praying little boy Stalin in the gulag, and praying little boy Assad in Aleppo.) is a quintessential work of kitsch – so much so that UD intends to feature it in her aesthetics course this semester. It conforms to Milan Kundera’s definition of the form: “the absolute denial of shit.” It’s the functional equivalent of “the Hitler with a song in his heart” in The Producers. Like Franz Liebkind, it wants to remind you that Hitler was essentially an innocent – a flawed human being like every one of us. He knows what he did was wrong, and if he were alive today and in touch with his inner child he’d be on his knees in the middle of the Warsaw ghetto praying for forgiveness.

Praying little boy Hitler conveys the important truth that we’re all potential Hitlers. Paul Berman, reviewing the work of Andre Glucksmann, writes:

The eleventh commandment that Glucksmann wants to append to the biblical ten is this: to know thyself as capable of being a monster – even if that means saying (and here the imp of excess wraps its fingers around Glucksmann’s neck […]), “Hitler, c’est moi.”

Trackback URL for this post:

One Response to “Flagellating Fascism”

  1. Polish Peter Says:

    A “certain sector of the population”, to quote the art journal linked above, might consider Cattelan’s work to be “narcissistic crap”.

Comment on this Entry

Latest UD posts at IHE