The Selfie and the Monument
Recently, Israeli satirist Shahak Shapira’s project “YOLOCAUST” shivered across social media. Shapira mined Facebook, Instagram, Tinder and Grindr to collect selfies made at Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which he presents along with their original hashtags and “likes.” When the viewer mouses over the pictures, a black-and-white image appears in which the Memorial itself gives way to a historical photograph from the Holocaust, such that the selfie-takers appear as figures in the landscape of genocide to which the Memorial refers. The title refers to YOLO, a social media acronym popular among Millennials and Centennials, meaning “You Only Live Once”––words Shapira imbues with sarcasm with regard to the selfie-takers at the Memorial, but which are perverse with regard to the victims of the Holocaust. Shapira informs his audience that people can have their picture removed from his site by sending an email to “email@example.com."
This essay is available in its entirety at Los Angeles Review of Books.