Artworks
Fallen Leaves
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)
jtucker's picture

Contributor

This sculptural piece by Menashe Kadishman is painfully poignant.

A necessary evil in a sense, but still, it's hard to deal with the feelings stirred up by this installation. It’s an essential testament to the horrors of the humanity and to those who have fallen from shameless brutality. Kadishman started this piece in 1997 and it has yet to be completed. It's located in the Memory Void in the Jewish Museum Berlin. Architect Daniel Libeskind designed the museum with multiple empty spaces, or voids, to represent the absence of Jewsfrom German society. This is one of the two voids that you can actually enter and walk through...if you dare.

Over 10,000 open mouthed faces made out of iron plates cover the floor. They seem to be wailing in agony. We stand above them, grinding them into the earth beneath our feet, making the viewer an active culprit. To me, this appears to be an uncomfortable reminder that the human mind can easily be manipulated into committing the worst atrocities, even if it’s not who we think we are.

The fact that the faces are unidentifiable is probably the eeriestpart of the walk. Representing a time when humanitarianism was the farthest thing from a priority, we are reminded of how Jews were stripped of identity, reduced to a number. They become an object to walk on and to kick around.

This piece clearly relates to our not-so-distant history of WWII. It is easy to see the connection between the unidentifiable faces and those victims of internment camps. But Kadishman does not want us to limit our interpretation of this piece to the Holocaust. The work is meant to represent all who have died because of violence and war, the souls of yesteryear, today, and the future. This is one of those artworks that hits home hard. It forces you to take a moment to reevaluate the world we live in. If you can’t make it to Berlin, watch this video of what it is like to walk through Kadishman’s Fallen Leaves