A letter from an alum about the architect Peter Eisenman
As a German, I found it compelling to read the Peter Eisenman interview where he reflected on his architectural achievements and specifically found his insights relating to the approach to the hotly disputed Holocaust Memorial in Berlin of particular interest. According to these, Eisenman believes that if it were possible to conduct a poll, which could access the German subconscious, the results would reveal that 90% of the German population is against his concept of a memorial.
I cannot but agree, however with one important difference: You need not
delve into the German subconscious. Almost everyone that I
know Germans and foreigners, Jews and non-Jews, old and young
find Eisenmans piece of architecture not only absurdly ugly, but
also inadequate as a symbol that seeks to keep the memory of the Holocaust
alive for present and future generations. Eisenman seems to enjoy this
mass rejection. As he states, he wishes to provoke. But whom? The surviving
Jews? Their children? The Germans in Berlin who have to pass by this monstrosity
every day? Perhaps the Germans or foreigners that visit Berlin?
Whatever the answer may be to these questions the conclusion (was
it Eisenmans?) that the wide rejection of his project amongst the
Germans indicates a latent anti-Semitism is absurd and, if
I may say so, unmerited. The negative reaction to this work appears to
be one that is primarily aesthetically driven and the notion that you
either like my architecture or you are an anti-Semite is
not one that I can believe that Eisenman really had that in mind when
talking to the Princeton Alumni Weekly.
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