Tourists can be a nuance when they don’t spend enough money in local businesses and especially when they disrespect the culture hosting them. Israeli satirist and author Shahak Shapira realized that of the daily 10K visitors of the Holocaust Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, many end up taking ‘goofy’ pictures, or pose doing other inappropriate activities such as jumping, skating or biking on the concrete slabs. Recurring to public shame, Shapira came up with Yolocaust, a project where he combined selfies (found on Facebook, Instagram, Tinder and Grindr) of irresponsible tourists posing there with archived images from Nazi extermination camps.
In a FAQ section he states,
“No historical event compares to the Holocaust. It’s up to you how to behave at a memorial site that marks the death of 6 million people.”
“[S]ome people’s behaviour at the memorial site is indeed disrespectful. But the victims are dead, so they’re probably busy doing dead people’s stuff rather than caring about that.”
Shapira also left the option to removing the pictures by emailing him.
Far from the unfortunate situation of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the author makes an important point. Being a tourist comes with the responsibility of finding information prior to visiting any site, not just a memorial for Nazi victims, and acting accordingly.
There is also the question of place, what makes a place sacred or valuable, and how does that notion construct a set of invisible rules regulating people’s behaviour while on/in it?
Below are a few images Shapira manipulated for Yolocaust, a word which by the way comes from YOLO (“you only live once”) + caust (Holocaust).