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Unable to Work

David Olere

Researched and Contributed by G.Schreiber

Below is the caption included on the website:
Unable to Work by David Olère. 131x162 cm, A Living Memorial to the Holocaust,
New York. Inability to work was often an immediate death sentence. In the background
of this painting, smoke rises from the crematorium to form the SS insignia.
David Olère: L'Oeil du Témoin/The Eyes of a Witness. New York: The Beate Klarsfeld
Foundation, 1989, p. 31. Reprinted with permission from the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation.

I find this piece both haunting and compelling. The gaunt and wretched faces of the characters depict
clearly the magnitude of their sorrow; the frankness of the background details directs our attention to
the lack of shame or covertness of the perpetrators. The sepctral figure that overshadows these fragile family members may represent other lost members, or death itself as a burden and constant companion.

There is a certain bitter irony embedded in the title. Work is something that we often complain about, but for
these individuals, "unable to work" meant their lack of worth as slave labour foretold their imminent death.

Oh, to be lucky enough to be able to work!


Online Source