Young: The Holocaust as Vicarious Past

A problem that many artists who dedicate their work to historical events find is that they cannot create their work directly as it affected them, because they were not alive or of the generation that lived through it. New media artists rarely try to represent events such as the Holocaust in different ways that have already been used, since they are of a post war generation and can’t remember the Holocaust as it happened, all they have is what has been passed down to them. “They remember not actual events but the countless histories, novel and poems of the Holocaust they have read, the photos, movies and video testimonies they have seen over the years.”

Young explains how instead artists try and portray their own “necessary hyper mediated experiences of memory.” When the memory of history no longer has a living testimony, it becomes the memory of the witnesses memory. By portraying the Holocaust as a ‘vicarious past’, these artists insist on maintaining a distinct boundary between their work and the separate testimonies of their parents or grandparents generation. “Not only does this generation of artists inattentively grasp its inability to know the history of the Holocaust outside the ways its has been passed down, but it sees history itself as a composite record f both events and these events transmission to the next generation.” Current and well know Holocaust artist tend to make there art represent the Holocaust as it is remembered to them, or what the memory of it means to them now. This still however creates opportunities for criticism  as Young explains, as some critics will argue that the representations are more “self indulgent and focus little on the survivors real memory and experiences.”



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