He stands there with the corners of his mouth turned down and in an ocher uniform, almost with the authority of a Berlin bouncer – if a worm-like tumor hadn’t squirmed out of the pockets of his lederhosen. Ridiculous. And if there wasn’t a swastika bandage on the left upper arm. Oh, at the beginning of the exhibition “Pretzelman Begins” in the Gallery Crone a mini-Hitler with a pretzel penis is actually kicking his ass. Is that supposed to invite you in or put you off?
In any case, it’s worth taking a look at the creative inventory of Erez Israeli to throw. The artist, who was born in Israel, shows the broken and at the same time overgrown Jewish history in Germany in a stereotyped and over-the-top way. Israeli packs the Pretzelman into over 80 works using different techniques. Sometimes as a frighteningly large squiggle sculpture, sometimes in robust oil paints, sometimes in the video as a naked man with a pretzel papier-mâché mask.
All of the works are among Israeli’s favorite works, he says jokingly during a talk with the culture journalist Sebastian Preuss. He knew that there was an incredibly large market for fake Holocaust objects on the Internet. An inspiration? Just change the ugliness a bit and bake it up into an easily digestible pretzel? At least Israeli wants a different perspective offer on Jewish history in Germany. And indeed: the images created by this exhibition eat away at you when you look at them. In this art, memories and identities are distorted, retrieved, brought to mind. Of course, Israel’s work is also influenced by contemporary Germany. He himself lives in Berlin. dailyI am so close to the place where humanity once left off. “How can a Jewish artist even live in Germany?” That’s what Israeli replies to his guests that evening. A self-reflection that triggers a constant conflict in him. And so you sit there pondering yourself at the moment. A feeling of guilt. At the same time, Israeli in Germany enjoys the freedom of his art, the risk that he can take provocative motifs of erections, gender and trauma. In Israel he would not have this freedom. Another irritation. Finally be free – in Germany of all places, as a Jew. You have to swallow hard if you allow this thought. But as clear as the Holocaust is, the forms of possible cultures of remembrance are just as ambiguous. This is what Erez Israeli teaches us.
Crone Gallery, Fasanenstr. 29; to January 21, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m