You may have missed Italian artist aleXsandro Palombo’s work commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. You may be glad you did.
For the anniversary, Palombo released a series of illustrations featuring characters from The Simpsons as Holocaust victims. The images are grotesque and uncanny, and find the Simpsons clan standing before Auschwitz’s infamous wrought-iron promise of “Arbeit Macht Frei,” bone-thin and beaten behind barbed wire, or naked and near-dead in a gray, claw-marked gas chamber. In short, the images are horrifying.
Titled “NEVER AGAIN,” the piece is an “invitation to reflection, an artwork to raise awareness, an indictment against intolerance, a punch to inhumanity,” according to Palombo. He believes in Holocaust education, but thinks “we have to do it without filters, bluntly, over and over again.”
The fact that Palombo uses Simpsons characters to represent Jews is evidence of that sentiment. It is a truly unsettling experience to see such beloved characters in such disturbing environs.
Though Palombo, an “artist and activist,” has used these characters before: last year, Marge Simpson, along with Snow White, Olive Oyl, and Wilma Flintstone, were drawn with black eyes and bloody lips, holding pictures of their husbands, the abusers who beat them. You might not like it — but even the exercise of articulating why is part of what makes his work so interesting.