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The Wheel of Conscience, Halifax, Canada 
Wednesday 01 Sep 2010
 
History comes full circle 
 
Studio Daniel Libeskind 
 
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No. of Comments: 15

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24/01/11 KS, Canada
Antisemitism is such a loaded term in the first place and there is no concrete definition for what it actually entails. Some Jews will argue that the New Testament is "antisemitic" because it simply portrays the historical fact that (certain) Jews are the ones who wanted Jesus eliminated. Some Jews will argue that attempting to convert Jews to Christianity is also "antisemitism". These are not exactly new ideas, having existed for many centuries, if not since the very beginnings of the Christian era. It shouldn't come as a huge surprise that some Canadians would not have wanted more Jews to enter the country, although in the end I don't think it was any aversion to Jews that made the government turn away this ship. It's simply the fact that these people showed up in a ship expecting to be let in (because they're Jews?) at a time when not many people were being let into the country in the first place because of the Depression; to allow them to enter would have spawned more such attempts, not just by Jews. Canada was allowing c. 10,000 people into the country during the 1930s. I believe that during this time, close to 15,000 Jews were allowed to enter. (Many more probably misrepresented their Jewishness.) Jews were not exactly being denied entry. In fact, in 1940--the very next year--the Canadian government allowed a similar number of Jews to enter Canada as refugees (via England). The only other large refugee group that Canada allowed to enter during this period was c. 1000 Sudeten Germans, who had to leave Europe for political reasons.
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21/01/11 Vinchy, Boston
I've seen more thought put into a paper mache mask done by a third grader than this gentleman put into that sculpture. Sad is right.

Anybody know what he got paid?
11/09/10 RJ, London
Dear 'murray g rowley':
The very fact that you would use the word "goys" simply proves how very racist and xenophobic you yourself are.

.
11/09/10 RJ, London
If the jews really want to address the problem of racism and xenophobia, then they need to start by correcting their own behavior and actions in Palestine and around the world.

.
11/09/10 Marvin Schacter, New York
Tragedies deserve the recognition that a thoughtfully designed memorial can evoke. This is not one of those designs. Libeskind's trademark one-liners and low-brow symbolism merely mock the significance of the event. The 'Wheel of Conscience' ends up being another remarkably poignant monument only to the gullibility of anyone wilfully stupid enough to take Daniel Libeskind or his superficial ideas seriously.
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07/09/10 murray g rowley, tuebingen
whoa......tone the vicious remarks down a little guys (or should I say goys?).....there are good reasons to demonstrate the connectivity of the racism, hatred, antisemitism etc. in the world....about 6 million reasons !
many in germany would gladly take the offer to receive this work of art....it serves to show that the most evil things begin as small errors of thinking taken to large extremes, that can occur in any culture.
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03/09/10 Ardi, Tel Aviv
Aaah. More vague and unsubstatiated symbolism ... the last source of refuge for a lousy designer.
02/09/10 Trev, Dublin
I noticed Libeskind's cogs on the different discs don't mesh. It just goes to prove he knows as little about mechanical devices as he knows about design.
02/09/10 Tadgh, Montreal
Jews have done alright in Canada. How much more of this needless guilt trip are we supposed to endure? I say pack this silly "wheel of idiocy" off to Germany. Maybe there's a few people who will need the message there.
02/09/10 NAVID MAJDI, tehran
Every day i think about the real meaning of architecture....art...and essence of real art......wheel of conscience make me sad.......how we can say goodbye to art and architecture???? a ring with some words!!!! ridiculous ....shame on this kind of art!!!! therefore we can draw a white sheet and write are dreams on it instead of make ourselves tired!!!!
shame on this kind of art...............
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Editorial

Libeskind chosen for memorial sculpture for Jewish refugees on the MS St. Louis 

The MS St. Louis set sail from Hamburg to Cuba in 1936 harbouring over 930 Jewish refugees seeking asylum from Nazi persecution. On arrival, the ship was turned away by the Cuban government and continued its voyage further up the coast until it arrived at Halifax, Canada. Again passengers were met with a steely response and were turned back to their homeland unaided by the Canadian government – a sure-fire death sentence.

Of the 936 refugees, it is thought a third were exterminated in concentration camps during the Second World War after being denied a vital lifeline by government officials on the other side of the pond. This tragic story has been all but lost over the years, brushed under the carpet by those too ashamed to remember; however the Canadian Jewish Congress recently held a design competition for a memorial sculpture to shine a light on the plight of those aboard the MS St. Louis.

Daniel Libeskind’s The Wheel of Conscience was selected from the reams of entries for its demonstration of the architect's ‘expertise, experience, creativity, and sensitivity’. The immense steel wheel bears the story of the MS St. Louis etched into the rim, whilst the cylinder itself displays a map of the world. A vision of the doomed vessel takes pride of place on the face of the sculpture, with the provocative terms HATRED, RACISM, XENOPHOBIA and ANTISEMITISM emblazoned on gears that cause the wheel to turn.

The smallest and fastest rotating gear of HATRED moves first, inducing the larger gear of RACISM, which moves a little slower. This in turn moves the yet larger gear of XENOPHOBIA which moves even slower. Finally, with all three gears working in unison, the largest and most prominent gear of ANTISEMITISM begins to turn. The rotating gears fracture and reassemble the image of the ship at set intervals.

Son of two Holocaust survivors, Libeskind is no stranger to the plight of Jewish refugees. His previous works such as the Jewish Museum in Berlin and Imperial War Museum in Manchester are contorted twists of metal designed to ‘emotionally move the soul of the visitor toward a sometimes unexpected realisation’. Whether The Wheel of Conscience will share this sentiment remains to be seen however as CJC National President Mark Freiman explains: “There are important universal lessons to be drawn from the St. Louis incident about the importance for democratic societies of tolerance, understanding, and respect for religious and cultural diversity.”

The Wheel of Conscience will be on permanent display in the Rudolph P. Bratty Permanent Exhibition at Pier 21, Canada’s Immigration Museum, in Halifax.

Sian Disson
News Editor

Key Facts

Status Competition win
Value 0(m€)
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Editorial

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