Friday, May 14, 2010

The Ugly and the Beautiful

The title of this post doesn't refer to people, but to two memorials located within a central, busy square - Rabin Square - of the Town Hall in Tel Aviv. The square ( previously called Kings of Israel and renamed Rabin's Square in memory of the assassinated Prime Minister Yitzach Rabin) is often used for demonstrations, open-air concerts, exhibitions, various ceremonies and festivities.

At one end of the square there's a memorial sculpture for Holocaust victims. created by the israeli painter and sculptor , Yigal Tomarkin, who's known as an anti-establishment person and artist. It's a 10 meter tall monument, a rusty metal structure of an inverted pyramid with glass window panels. The monument is ugly and totally out of place. I don't like to look at it, certainly not come near it as it's rusty, full of dust and bird shit (I suppose it gets cleaned from time to time). There were attempts to remove it , but the sculptor fought against these attempts in court and outside it, so here it stays.

At the other end of the square - there's a memorial area for Yitzhach Rabin located a few feet away from the spot where he has been shot. The monument , designed by a woman architect, Ms. Claude Grundman Brightman and carried out by the sculptress Yael ben Artzi, is made of 16 bazalt rocks arranged in a grid and contained by a steel frame; the stones are set at varying heights and lit from below by a light suggesting the everlasting fire.

It is beautiful. I would say, it definitely has a woman's touch; after all, it's the creation of two women. Many people come to the place, lit candles in Rabin's memory, pray, take pictures, discuss its significance. No one can remain indifferent to the dark basalt rocks sunken in the pavement.
Unlike the Hollocaust Memorial which stands high above the ground, Rabin's Memorial is almost at ground level, so it doesn't interfere with anything, but looks an integral part of the square.


  1. I tried to enlarge the first memorial which in this pic. looks like an upside down triangle. From what I can see it really doesn't blend in with it's surroundings. It's so sad too, because of what it represents.

    You really can tell that the Rabin was designed by women, it takes on the curvature of a woman's body.

    You always have the most interesting post about parts of the world I will never see. I thank you for that sweet Duta.

    Ya'll have a wonderfully blessed weekend!

  2. The difference in the energy of the pieces is striking. Rabin's invites closeness and comfort. The Holocast feels cold and sharp.

    I wonder if the artist felt that shape to be symbolic of the horror for some reason.

  3. Amazing difference in the two sculptures! I think the second one is very eye-catching, very respectful and speaks volumes.

  4. A woman's touch makes all the difference, one may say but not always. DUTA believe it or not, I have not heard anyone say that a building was 'ugly.' First time!

    But how did you even think of putting these two buildings together in this post. That thought is what makes you special and this blog as a place of character.

    Nice to visit places through your eyes!


    Joy always,

  5. Interesting and impressive monuments!

  6. The stone one is beautiful Duta. They certainly are different in many ways.

  7. The two monuments are impressive work of an artists. And surely represents a memorial for the next generation to see.
    Great post and captures Duta.
    Happy weekend.

  8. Although I agree about the form of the sculptures in comparison to each other, I think the Holocaust one does reinforce the desperation of those times in Jewish history. It is bleak, and it is difficult to look at, but then so were those times. And it does say 'I might be ugly but don't forget'. Whereas the softer sculpture of the stones is more a celebration of a person's life, so has a necessary beauty. There was no beauty in the Holocaust, although perhaps there was beauty in the spirit of the people who survived. Perhaps a sculpture to personify that spirit would be better.
    Another good post, Duta, and one that made me think.

  9. I prefer the memorial for Mr. Rabin for two reasons.
    Rabin was a man of peace, and as such the architect & the sculptres build something reserved & near to the people.
    Also, it isn't so depressing & offensive in the vista it offers.

    Granted, Tomarkin may have wanted the people to feel they way the victims might have felt back then, still it appears a bit misplaced & wrong.

  10. Very interesting Duta!
    I think the first monument looks like an accident, a terrible mistake. It actually looks like a piece of space junk fell from the sky, unnatural and all hard edges.

    The second sculpture seems to be one with the earth. The smooth basalt stones are unique and natural.The glow of light from underneath is fascinating, it really makes me think... ponder.

  11. My artistic side agrees with you that the Holocaust Monument is an eye sore. Rabin's on the other hand is very interesting. Suppose art is in the eye of the beholder, but one would think that a monument to those who lived and died during the holocaust would be better represented. Blessings to all.

  12. Since I love art I can see the viewpoint of both artists, but you are right, the first one is at the wrong place -and it's sad that it's made from a fetal that rusts, because the holocaust is such an important part of Israel's inhabitants.
    Also, the second memorial has found a way that easily connects with people: an eternal flame:)

  13. Nezzy,

    You said it right: " doesn't blend in with its surroundings". That's exactly how I feel about it. I like your observation on "the curvature of a woman's body". Have a blessed week, too!

    Ronda Laveen,

    I'm sure the artists of both monuments felt that the shape they chose was symbolic of horror: horror of the Hollocaust, horror of the assassination.


    I agree with you - the emphasis being on "very respectful".

    Susan Deborah,

    Of course, there are ugly buildings, and people talk and write about it. But here we have two memorials, which require special sensitivity on the part of the artist. The two memorials are located in the same square, at a short distance from one another, and there's striking difference between the two. That's how and why I brought them together in my post. Thanks for your kind words.

    Phivos Nicolaides,

    Thank you for your comment. You're always so positive!


    I have to agree with you. The bazalt stone memorial has much beauty ( and sadness).

  14. Regina,

    Indeed so. Monuments are meant to convey a message to the next generations.


    Very interesting comment! The topic of ugliness has been mentioned in the newspapers, and the bottom line seems to be this: there's ugly, and there's ugly. This particular kind of ugliness is not respectful to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

    Pink Panthress,

    I totally agree with your point of view. Tomarkin's sculpture is indeed "a bit misplaced and wrong". Rabin's memorial is attractve; it offers people thoughts on peace and beauty.

    Jennifer D,

    Your words are very accurate, Jennifer. The Holocaust monument looks like "an accident,a terrible mistake". Rabin's monument looks as something well planned - it has special elements : bazalt stones, a glowing red light beneath them, and the whole structure which seems "to be one with the earth".

    C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson,

    You're right as usual. Although art is said to be "in the eyes of the beholder", nevertheless there's a general feeling among people that the Holocaust should have been better represented.


    Being an artist yourself, you are able to see the viewpoints of both sides. And yet you admit that the Holocaust monument is out of place, and that rusting material is not becoming a monument representing the Holocaust. On the other hand, Rabin's monument has the eternal flame element that attracts and connects people.

  15. What I don't understand is why this shape. It makes no sense to me.

  16. Art is subjective, and in this case you are spot on in your descriptions of both monuments. Thank you for another interesting piece.

    Have a wonderful week!

  17. Hmmmm, living in Phoenix AZ this made me wonder if this was inspired by that upside down pyramid? (I know nothing of this blog, just what came up when googled, decent picture though>

  18. robert,

    The sculptor is known as an anti-everything conventional. So he created an anti-structure, an inverted pyramid (which is an unstable format).
    But there's of course some deeper meaning. The sculpure is called Monument to Holocaust and the Rebirth of the jewish nation. It is basically a triangle surmounted by an inverted pyramid which together form the Star of David, recognized universally as the symbol of jewry.


    Thanks for stopping by. Art is indeed subjective, but there seems to be a consensus regarding the Holocaust monument, namely, that it's a failure and out of place.


    Thanks for the comment. I followed the link given by you. All I can say is that the upside-down pyramid in Phoenix looks much more respectable than the one in Tel Aviv.

  19. Yes I agree with you, it has a woman's touch. Thank you for all the information and great photos

  20. I'm torn. On the one hand, I suppose a memorial of something so horrifying should be rather jarring. I do find the second one jarring in a good way, and more importantly, I understand it. I understand what it is meant to convey, or at least I believe that I do.

    The first I don't understand it's connection to the Holocaust. It baffles me and I don't understand what it symbolizes.

    The thing is, someone could tell me what it represents, but that wouldn't actually change anything. It would still be a stretch, I wouldn't see it, I'd just be told it.

    You know, I think a memorial ought to make you feel and think something beyond, "Huh." which is what the first one does. Pity, I'm sure the artist tried, and feels he achieved something.

  21. Ballet News,

    In fact the touch of two women: the designer and the sculptress, both very gifted women.

    Land of Shimp,

    What could I say? You're right, of course. I'm afraid the Holocaust monument is jarring for the wrong reasons; people avoid it and, like you, they don't understand its connection to that horrible piece of History, the Holocaust. That's a pity.

  22. Hi Duta,
    I had to catch up after my time away; you have been busy!

    Although I think the Holocaust memorial is unsettling, I think it accurately depicts the time and the circumstances. It is possibly not ugly enough! Also, its precarious, off-balance stand shows the persistence of the Jewish people, who have been persecuted and vilified for centuries and yet remain. They have been uncared for by much of humanity, so are rusted. They have had dirt thrown on them. But they are a people chosen and supported by God, and will continue as long as He wills. It was and is horrible that so many suffered and died in the Holocaust. It was much worse than this memorial shows. But it must never be glossed over and made beautiful.

  23. This is interesting to consider Duta - the memorial of something should not obstruct us from the view...provoked my thoughts, AS YOU ALWAYS DO.

    Thank you.

  24. Dimple,

    Good to have you back. Your comment presents us with a very interesting theory. I like it .


    Yes, the Holocaust monument , because of its size and shape has become rather an obstruction in the square.

  25. Sulpture is not my cup of tea or coffee unless it is recogniable. Most of it leaves me wondering about the workings of the artist mind. Like the first one. Then I am sure when you see the second one lighted it may give an experience but just to look at it from a photo it seems rather gangly. Of course they may have been smoking funny cigerettes when they completed the works. Again, I am challenged to find the beauty or place for such art works. Nashville is slowly recovering from the historical flood. Peace

  26. Lady Di Tn,

    I like sculpture in general, but monuments are not 'my cup of tea'. Like you, I also feel challenged to find the proper place for such art works, especially in this particular case of the Holocaust monument.

  27. I think I "get" the inverted pyramid. I've been thinking about this for days.

    If I lived there, and had to look at it all the time... I would probably also want it moved. Maybe to a small park of it's own, where the bird poo could be cleaned often without disrupting commerce.

    But, I think I get it. Some things that have happened in this world must not be forgotten. They must not be allowed to grow complacent and sleepy in the recesses of our minds. People must be shocked or sickened on a constant basis by a reminder of a world gone mad, a world that turned it's back and allowed something old and reliable as the pyramids to be turned upside down.

    So, maybe the artist is saying don't turn away, this is hard to see... but see me.

  28. @eloh,

    That's a very interesting and logical explanation! I like it. Thank you, and have a blessed week-end!

  29. I love reading individual comments on any kind of art. Because it is something I know little about, it's a learning process for me. This one in particular made me really think about the two sculptures and their meanings/impact and if the impact was the intent of the artist. Very interesting post!

  30. Cheri Pryor,

    In this particular case, the comments are even more interesting than the post. Indeed reading the comments "it's a learning process" as you 've pointed out.
    Thanks for your wise comment.

  31. Fascinating, Duta. I agree w/ your assessment of the inverted pyramid thing. In my un-artistic opinion, that's not art. It has an abrasive, "in your face" quality, at least from what the picture suggests. But I suppose that was the point, after all, the artist is apparently that type of guy.

    The sunken bazalt stones, now, that's another thing altogether. Subtle, ever present, and impossible to bypass. Much more impressive in its strength.

  32. btw, we (myself & the people I know) are very concerned for Israel. We are bitterly ashamed of an American president who does not have the fortitude (or is it the desire?) to stand behind Israel. Inexcusable.

    God with God, my friend. You all are in my prayers.

  33. oops!
    In my haste I meant to say "Go" with God.


  34. Susannah,

    Thank you for your beautiful comment on the two very different monuments.
    A special Thanks to you and your friends for supporting Israel. God bless you!
    In God we trust and believe He's on our side.