Free Dina’s Art

August 2010 – No News is No News
August 25, 2010, 2:35 am
Filed under: Active Decency

The search for accountability concerning the International Auschwitz Committee’s arbitrary denial of Dina Babbitt’s Human Rights is currently focused on the International Council of Museums’ Ethics Committee.

That group, among its other duties and challenges, oversees the compliance of all member museums with the ICOM Code of Ethics. The matter was put to the Ethics Committee over a year ago and we are waiting somewhat patiently for news.

The Wheels of Justice are said to move slowly, and the Wheels of Ethics don’t seem to be ‘burning rubber’ either.  The historical facts remain and they point to the application of an extremist ideology that precludes individual human rights under certain undefined but rigidly enforced circumstances.

It has been just over a year since Dina Babbitt’s passing, and over thirty-six years since she last saw and presumably held, her Gypsy portraits at the Auschwitz State Museum.  Prior to that it had been nearly thirty years since she had last seen her watercolours, that being at the time of their creation.

It was Dina Babbitt’s most fervent wish that she be able to hold those works in her hands again, and then pass them on to the hands of her children and grandchildren whose very existence was made possible by the creation of the Gypsy portraits. For Dina Babbitt, the Gypsy portraits represented actual people who endured the same terror as she but who didn’t survive.

It has taken more than half a century and expressions of support in great numbers via letters, petitions, art exhibits and public presentations, political initiatives and contemporary artistic undertakings such as graphic novels and video to set this idea before people who are charged with tending the details that will see Dina’s art restored to its rightful owners.

Throughout Dina Babbitt’s attempts to regain her paintings, the International Auschwitz Council has maintained a stance, often backed by spurious and specious arguments, that takes its mandate to commemorate and interprets it as a mandate to perpetuate the rights denials of the past. This is wrong. It is time for the IAC to rethink its mandate and free Dina’s art.


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