When one uses Holocaust-related imagery -- especially in a for-profit situation -- he or she had better be prepared for the subsequent outrage. Studio Job, a Belgium-based design firm known for pushing hard against conventional ideals, has landed itself some negative attention after the company proposed a Holocaust-inspired fence design for a client in the Netherlands.
The company's design, which was meant to mimic the barricade outside of the crematoria of Buchenwald, Germany's largest concentration camp, drew international ire. After all, nearly 50,000 people were killed at Buchenwald, which causes one to wonder why the seemingly-insensitive design was considered in the first place.
The Huffington Post describes the planned fence:
The piece consists of two chimneys connected by an arch of smoke. 'To Each His Own' is written in Latin on a bell that hangs from the center. These words in German were written on Buchenwald's entrance.
The president of the European Jewish Congress was among the outraged, as he claimed that the proposed fence “[t]rivializ[ed] the Holocaust.” In the end, the design company, led by Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel, abandoned the plan.
In a statement to Fast Code Design, they said:
"We have decided to alter the original plans for the gate/ artwork due to the commotion and unrest in society. In our work we always aim to use iconographic images. In this particular case we have insufficiently realised what the impact would be. We thoroughly regret it if this has caused upset and grief with parties affected by this, that has in no way been our intention. Art is in our view an invitation to dialogue, an invitation that is often paired with controversy. We will continue to engage in this but with a more sensitive view towards the sentiments as mentioned above/before."
In addition to this international drama, Studio Job also recently invoked the Holocaust in yet another project. After the firm designed a tablecloth that had a concentration camp printed on it, the Groninger Museum, which has displayed the company's unique creations in the past, refused to show it. Smeets didn't understand why the museum treated the project in such a manner.
"It is ridiculous that in the museum you can show dicks and vaginas with no trouble, but just fifty meters away in a private lounge they say no to my cloth," he said. "We were using an iconography that is part of our history.... these pieces express the opposite of what you think they do .... please open your angry eyes!," Smeets continued.
While he claims that the company is attempting to break taboos, critics maintain that the designers are attempting to capitalize off of the Holocaust. It is this exploitation that doesn't quite sit well with individuals who stand opposed to both the Holocaust-inspired fence and tablecloth.
(H/T: The Huffington Post)