The Null Device

245 Cubic Metres

Santiago Sierra, the Mexican conceptual artist who, in the past, hired labourers to masturbate, created casts of prostitutes' genitals and invited patrons to an art opening which was blocked off (thus demonstrating that they were more concerned with free champagne than aesthetic experiences), is back. His latest project involved turning a former synagogue in Germany into a gas chamber:
The Mexico-based artist has parked six cars outside the synagogue and attached their exhaust pipes to the building using plastic tubes. It is then filled with deadly gas. Visitors are invited to go inside one by one wearing a gas mask, escorted by a firefighter. Before being allowed in, they have to sign a disclaimer stating they realise the room is full of carbon monoxide.
Sierra claims that the installation, titled 245 Cubic Metres with chilling blandness, is a protest against the "banalisation of the Holocaust". Germany's Jewish groups, however, don't see it that way and have denounced the exhibit as "scandalous". Visitors' reactions have been mixed. The exhibit has since been suspended until Sierra meets his critics to discuss the project.

The comments in the Guardian's blog raise some interesting points, with some claiming a second subtext, equating personal automobiles with genocide, and others comparing it to a notional installation spraying the inside of a mosque with pigs' blood.

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