Smiling in Auschwitz: Instagram Selfies and Historical Representation at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum

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Abstract

The subject of the chapter is a project carried out on 17 January 2017 by the Israeli artist Shahak Shapira, entitled “Yolocaust”. As part of this project, the artist collected and shared photos – self-portraits (selfies) taken by people visiting the sites commemorating the Holocaust: the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. The photos published on social media are presented by the author as a testimony of inappropriate attitudes, a reflection of the ignorance and narcissistic attitude of the young generation towards the historical reality of the Holocaust. The author takes the interpretation that the way of constructing meaning in social media – where anyone can produce historical knowledge not only through written text, but a range of other means, such as spoken language, static and moving images, music, non-verbal sounds and gestures – leads to a postponement of the notion of “truth” and “semantic clarity”, becoming a threat to historical consciousness. Consequently, he puts forward the thesis that the photos in question do not, however, prove the individual attitude of their authors to historical events such as the Holocaust, but constitute an element of shaping cultural memory as a “ludic identity”.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Image, History and Memory
Subtitle of host publicationCentral and Eastern Europe in a Comparative Perspective
EditorsMichał Haake, Piotr Juszkiewicz
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter9
Pages105-120
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-003-26446-0
ISBN (Print)978-1-032-20624-0, 978-1-032-20625-7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2022

Publication series

SeriesEuropean Remembrance and Solidarity

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