Saturday, March 4, 2006

Nearer My God to Thee

The Armenian Library & Museum of America boasts the largest collection of Armenian artifacts in the United States. The collection fits within a 3-story building next to the Police Station, but is no less impressive for it. Coins thousands of years old, ancient weapons, re-created churches, and a memorial to the 1.5 million exterminated during WWI. Above the articles from nay-sayers claiming the genocide never happened, is a quote from Hitler, "After all, who remembers the extermination of Armenians anymore?"

What visitors have come to see today is the Jack Kervorkian art. It is hard to know whether people expected the vivid Frida Kahlo-style expressions of pain or pathology, or the striking indignities inflicted on God while trying to take His side. The gallery notes are written by Kervorkian himself, in a blithering manifesto that shows off his vocabulary more than his ethics or passion. No one speaks.

Being raised the child of genocide survivors, immigrants, and a lifelong pathologist, one comes to the end of each day with a different attitude about life and death than the rest of us do. He may have done more for visually expressing physical pain than any artist in the 20th Century, besides perhaps Kahlo herself. It is a shame his reputation as a legal gadfly will eclipse his reputation as an artist.

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