Boris Lurie | Railroad to America | 1963
Collage on canvas | 55.5 x 68 cm
© Boris Lurie Art Foundation, New York, USA
Boris Lurie took the shocking image of a photo – taken by the Allies after the liberation of the concentration camps – and combined it provocatively with a voyeuristic image from a girly magazine of the kind that flooded the US market in the post-war years.
The pose of the pin-up girl and the piled corpses of murdered concentration camp inmates shine a spotlight on two worlds that are mutually exclusively in representation and perception. Lurie juxtaposes these images in order to draw attention to the continuing abuses of power and the use of violence and humiliation – as also used in democratic societies.
What may at first glance seem to be a mockery of the victims proves, upon further contemplation, to be a complex interaction between past and present. Lurie’s formative experiences from the Shoah period under the Nazi regime enabled him to assess and filter contemporary experiences in his US exile home from a highly sensitised perspective. This work is also a prime example for the vital, provocative and blasphemous potential of the NO!art group. Ignorance, emotional stupefaction and voyeurism are unmasked and brought to light with painful clarity.