Friday, November 3, 2006

Institutionally Wrong

As a voice of truth, as I do think of myself, I have an actual subject today to go off about. I have someone else's story, my take/opinion and of course, it would not be complete without a story of my own!

When I go to have my cig outside, just like with every other aspect of my day I end up think, think, thinking. Actually, thinking seems easier and more clear outside than other times. So today, my mind wandered in its admitted circular thinking and I remembered a NYT's story that I had found and printed and here it sits on my lap for reference.

This may seem a post of bitterness but I see it as a post of truth. I relate to this woman and join the in the fight against institutional wrong.

Dina Gottliebova Babbitt, now 83, is an Auschwitz survivor of the Holocaust. During that evil, her life was saved by being forced to paint pictures of gypsies by the notorious Josef Mengele. Before the Nazi's would torture and kill them he wanted an acurate picture of the coloring of their skin since he did not think photos could capture it. Miss Gottliebova's mural of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,' an attempt to cheer up the children in Auschwitz brought her to Mengele's attention.

She was singled out of a group of people to be exterminated and would agree to do this only if her mother would be spared also or she would commit suicide by touching the electric fence. So she painted the gypsies and after every single one was killed, she was forced to paint Mengele's medical procedures.

Ms. Gottliebova and her mother survived the horror and she went on to be an animator in Paris, marry and divorve a Mr. Babbitt while living in the U.S. , continued her career as an animator and worked on such characters like Tweety Bird, Wile E. Coyote and Cap'n Crunch.

And she wants her paintings created in hell back.

She says that every single thing she physically owned was taken from her, from her dog, furniture, to her underwear and that now that they have found something that actually belongs to her they refuse to give it back which makes her feel as helpless as when these atrocities first occurred.

Now, the Auschwitz museum insists that her paintings belong to them, that they exist because of her forced servitude to Mengele. and will not give them back to her. Period. They are afraid of the precedent that it will set as other artists and 'contributers' are still alive.

This is what I have to say:

What is a museum if it is holding its artifacts hostage? More than any other institution in the world, Jewish caretakers of a museum depicting the most horrible, inhumane activity ever known of upon this earth should have the empathy and morals to understand precisely what this woman went through and if she wants her things back: give it to her. Period.

I don't care to see things in a museum that are displayed against the will of a living artist. If everyone took their things out, so be it, because in reality it is a sham of a 'museum.' I was thrilled when I saw a real Monet at a Chigago Museum when I visited. Or I think of Van Gogh - he chose to sell his paintings to live. But if someone grabbed them from him in the name of history or their own purposes any fool can see that is wrong.

Here's my story:

I was 16 years old, finally reached a private mental hospital for care as I had gone out of my head psychotic. They tell me I created unbelievable stuff during this period in 'art therapy.' Stuff that I don't even recall, stuff that was created by a person who had no boundaries, someone for all practical purposes was not here and wouldn't have been able to iterate, hear, or answer a yes or no question. In short I created in hell, for the interest and benefit of others, not even realizing *as I was doing* what I was doing.

When I left same institution, part of the signing out papers was to give up all my rights to my work created in 'art therapy' to the (may I say evil) art therapist herself. This was not being analyzed to help me, this had no purpose except to go into her personal collection or for all I know to get her off on. NO CHOICE - I was told sign it or I COULD NOT LEAVE!!! My mother was so in a hurry or wanted me out so badly that she was basically like "sign the fn thing." I kept refusing and I believe they might have brought the art 'therapist' down to talk to me. Perhaps it is just my own memory, but I recall her smiling smugly as I signed the piece of paper when they kept telling me impatiently that it was standard procedure.

Both institutions want to take from people who had no control over the creation of their work or the circumstances that they had been forced into. Before anyone gets concerned about any perceived comparison between Aushwitz and psychoses in a mental hospital, I will say this: One was a real and physical hell on Earth, the other a real hell experienced only in one person's head. The real and physical has always taken precedent to most humans, so you come to your own conclusion.

Still, I must end this with stating it is unbelievable how any institution, made by people no less, can continue inhumane treatment and make it as easy to enforce as saying - it's our policy. And to make you sign on the bottom line, with no choice, to cover their butt is reprehensible.

I don't see a real purpose, even for history, in taking something from someone when they have more than paid the price for their own creativity and just want to own what's theirs.


Raine said...

oh now that is just SOOOOO wrong !! that have no right to keep her stuff or yours !!!! None at all!!!

mysti said...

I agree with Raine! How dare them keep stuff that is yours! That is so not right.

Btw I had such a wonderful time visiting with you! Thank you for blessing me with your friendship Tart. I feel totally blessed!

(((((Hugs))))) I truly had so much fun. You are such a wonderful lady!