January 29, 2008

A beautiful and clean Memorial.

source: left - DonGil magazine, right - Ute Bauer

Did Don Gil, a fashion chain for high earners, hire a location scout who suggested Vienna's Holocaust memorial to be the most suitable spot to present the autumn/winter collection?
Don Gil was looking for "a public site with a beautiful and clean appearance" - certainly it took several meetings and decision papers to finally result in more pros than cons for the setting. The fotoshooting was carried out in September 2007 and got published in several fashion magazines, on Don Gil website as well as in the company's magazine "Don Gil - highly attractive" No 2.07. At least the pages 30 to 35 are highly repulsive: "the urban beau" is posing on the names of concentration- and extermination-camps that are engraved in the base of the memorial. The male model is leaning against the inverse bookshelfs and door - a metaphor used by the artist Rachel Whiteread - and communicates coolness in contrast to the inscription "In commemoration of more than 65000 Austrian Jews who were killed by the Nazis between 1938 and 1945".

source: left - DonGil magazine, right - Ute Bauer

The memorial was intended to evoke the tragedy and brutality of the Holocaust and in the words of Simon Wiesenthal at the unveiling, "This monument shouldn't be beautiful, it must hurt." (source: Wikipedia)

source: left - DonGil magazine, right - Ute Bauer

After being taken to task by the Viennese Jewish Community Don Gil admitted, that "possibly they didn't think through everything." Did they think at all? And what about the readers? The promotion was published for three months without being criticised.
Don Gil apologized, they took the pictures off their website but they still distribute their magazine. Newspapers reported briefly, but didn't initiate a serious discussion.

Without debate commemoration becomes a blank gesture.