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The ethical limit of Holocaust representations (in art, literature, architecture, film, etc.) lies on a system of substitutions going from mimesis to abstract motifs. The set of patterns and artistic theories coming from the modernist and avant-garde movements provide a conceptual framework to explore the intersection of memory, ethics and aesthetics in the artistic expressions (one of the major issues in “Holocaust Studies”).

From this point of view, the Grid, considered as a Modernist Myth, is a fundamental visual pattern. As noted by art historian Rosalind Krauss, the grid “announces, among other things, modern art’s will to silence, its hostility to literature, to narrative, to discourse”. In the cultist space of modern art “the grid serves not only as emblem but also as myth. For like all myths, it deals with paradox or contradiction not by dissolving the paradox or resolving the contradiction, but by covering them over so that they seem (but only seem) to go away”.  A paradox, or contradiction, which involves the unrepresentability of Holocaust.

We can look at the grid structure as a myth not only referring to modernist artists like Ryman or Mondrian, but also to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas, 2005) designed by architect Peter Eisenman. In this specific case, the paradox is represented by a monument that Germany built to its own fault.

Piet Mondrian, Composition No. 10 Pier and Ocean (1915)

Peter Eisenman, Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas, 2005

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