Ink Tank - Make words not war Mahmudul Islam

 

When I was a teenager in my home country of Bangladesh the only thing I knew about Finland was that it’s the land of Nokia.

After completing my bachelor’s in electronics I worked as a journalist for 3 years, I then decided to come to Finland to pursue a master’s at the University of Oulu.

I observed a number of interesting characteristics about Finland in my first 12 months of living here and I present them below…

 

 

 

1. The virtue of being punctual

In Finland everything happens on time. Finns rigorously practice punctuality and expect others to do the same. Want to annoy a Finn? Then be late a full of excuses.
 

2. Girls are noticeably safe in public

The Bangladeshi society grapples with the perennial problem of street harassment of women. It’s typically not safe for women to go outside alone at night. On the contrary, Finland seems to be a safe haven for women. Women can dress as they please without the threat of verbal harassment.

 

3. The precious sun

Growing up in a tropical country has allowed me to grow accustomed to the predictability of the sun. The only seasonal exception is winter when the sun is slightly less intense. Finland forces you to become incredibly fond of the sun and its elusive tendencies.

4. Free Wi-Fi

The indispensability of mobile phones in everyday life is essential. The Internet has made communications easier and the convenience of using the internet is greatly amplified when you can connect to free Wi-Fi hotspots in public places throughout Finland.

 

5. Wherever you go, nature steals the show

Finland is Europe’s most forested country. Helsinki and its condensed population have easy access to the surrounding nature. The abundance of water is another key feature of Finland, which is why Finland is known as the land of a thousand lakes. It was a pleasant shock moving from the concrete jungle of Bangladesh to the gorgeous greenery of Finland.

 

Photo: Michele Lawrence


 

6. The infrastructure is organized

I realized soon after moving that everything works systematically in Finland. Public transport is astonishingly punctual and businesses operate according to their announced schedules, which makes daily life hassle-free.

7. The food is flavorless

Finnish food is pretty bland and severely lacking in the spice department. I have tried to get used to Finnish food but I’m endlessly disappointed. The missing flavors seem to be replaced with a love for sugar, as Finns definitely have a sweet tooth.

8. English is widely accepted

Finns are among the top speakers of English as a second language in the world. In the big cities of southern Finland speaking English is not a problem, however, it’s impossible to integrate into the society without knowing Finnish. Sure you can speak English, but you cannot become part of Finnish society if you don’t learn Finnish.
 

9. Coffee & milk love

The Finns love for coffee is no secret. Finns drink tons of coffee according to the International Coffee Organization, so congratulations Finland, you’re the biggest coffee drinkers in the world! Finns also seem to have an admiration for milk. I was surprised to see that many adults drink milk with lunch…it’s not just for kids here!

 

 

10. Cars don’t honk

It’s a fact that having a car gives you greater mobility and when it comes to moving around in a sparsely populated country like Finland, a car is pretty essential. In comparison to Bangladesh where car’s honk nonstop, the Finnish roads are relatively quiet.


 

11. Expat Finns are easier to interact with

The expat Finns I have encountered, especially those who have lived in other countries where small talk is acceptable, are more friendly and open than others. Moreover, they don’t identify with the stereotypical definition of “reticent Finn” once they’ve returned to Finland. Concepts like “extreme personal space” or “public quietness” become obsolete to the expat Finn.

 

12. Silent Finland

Finns tend to enjoy the quiet and perhaps their surroundings influence this fact. The silence may feel mysteriously morbid at first, but once you adapt to it your focus can significantly improve…thus, Finland is a great place for writers!

 

Mahmudul Islam is a graduate student of wireless communications engineering at the University of Oulu.   

 

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Edited by Michele Lawrence.




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Ink Tank - Make words not war Michele Lawrence

With so much eye-grabbing art out there it’s difficult to find a focal point. Hannu Huhtamo’s light painting photography is an art form that provides just that — focus.

Hannu is putting an interesting spin on photography by overlaying long exposure captures of light movement to beautiful still photography, and he’s using Finland as the backdrop.

 

 
 

“The darkness is my canvas and the light, my paintbrush.” — Hannu Huhtamo

 

Hannu Huhtamo – Where the Rust Blooms

 

While light manipulation within photography is nothing new, Hannu’s captivating photos are directly metaphorical to the country Hannu is from, Finland, setting his work apart from the rest.

Finland is no stranger to extreme darkness in the relentless winter months — the act of chasing light becomes a necessary skill for mental survival in the arctic — and this art form is a fitting adaptation of that notion.

 

Hannu Huhtamo – Terminus

 

I asked Hannu a few questions about his work, here’s what he had to say:

 

1. Is photography your first love?

Actually no, originally I’m a guitar player who accidentally got involved in long exposure photography. But since that day I’ve been totally hooked on light painting so I guess you can call it a love affair that turned into a long {term} relationship. While music has always been my great source of energy, light painting is more like a meditative state that helps me to concentrate on a moment.

 

Hannu Huhtamo – Lost and Lethal


 

2. Where in Finland are some of your favorite spots to shoot?

Usually I don’t have to go far away from Helsinki. The city outskirts can offer quite a lot of interesting locations if there’s just enough darkness for longer exposure times. To avoid light pollution I usually head up to Luukki recreation area in Espoo. Kruunuvuori ghost town is definitely one of my all time favorite spots in Helsinki. All the abandoned and collapsed villas offer a surreal scene for photography. It’s a shame that nowadays the place is almost gone.

 

Hannu Huhtamo – Bright Ambassadors

 

3. The contrast in your pieces is stunning, are you drawn to darkness you think?

Maybe a little, the balance between two sides is important. I find it interesting and also challenging to decide what details you want to emphasize with light.

 

Hannu Huhtamo – The making of a portrait

 

4. What’s your favorite instrument of light to work with?

If I have to choose one, it would be the electroluminescent wire, aka glow wire. It’s versatile because you can bend it in various shapes and create organic shapes more smoothly.

 

 
 

 

5. What’s next on the agenda?

I’ll try to finish my long exposure portrait series “Connected” and start making some plans for a light painted music video. Hopefully all this by the end of the year!

 

Hannu Huhtamo – Expansion

What brightens your perspective? How do you quiet your internal chaos? For more illuminating inspiration check out more of Hannu’s work here:

Hannu’s Flickr

Hannu’s 500px

Hannu’s Facebook

 

 




Title image: Hannu Huhtamo – Tri-Iris

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Ink Tank - Make words not war Michele Lawrence

Donald Trump jr in November 2016

On days when he’s not killing endangered species in foreign countries for sport and making a mockery of the White House with his mere presence, Junior Jackass is posting absurdly dumb twitter posts about complex political issues he’s completely clueless about (he’s definitely his father’s son).

 

The internet’s response did not cease to amaze…

 

 

Celebrities and everyone in between decimated Donnie Jr. with the facts of reality about socialism. Not only did Donnie Jr. fail miserably to create a sensible analogy, he also did it with bad grammar.

 

Here’s more examples of what went down in case you missed it…

 

Original tweet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Title image by Max Goldberg

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Ink Tank - Make words not war Thomas Nybergh

Yellow autumn leaf on the ground, photo by Tom Woodward

Finland’s climate is notorious for skipping long intermediary periods of warmish spring and fall. Summer turns to… something else pretty quickly. That somefthing else usually happens in September, in Finnish literally “Month of Autumn” (syyskuu).

If you’re out and about in Finnish nature during late September throughout most of October, you might witness ruska. That’s a Finnish word for autumn colored foliage. In many places over the world, ruska puts up quite the show.

But due to the long, dark winter in Finland, ruska really is last call for enjoying nature. Unless you like stumbling around in the cold and dark. Which is totally okay, we’re not judging.

In any case, we went scouting Flickr’s community for some ruska goodness. This writer also pillaged his own archive if Instagram snapshots, for your enjoyment. So, whether you prefer the great outdoors in urban streetscapes or out in the middle of nowhere, we hope we can remind you to at least enjoy a few more strolls outside before the long grey dark sets in.

 

1. If you’re in luck puddles or lakes might remind you to look up at the trees.

 

 

2. Lapland is stunning during ruska.

 

3. But so are all the lush suburbs all around the country. This view is from a high-rise building in Vuosaari in Helsinki.

 

4. I prefer staying in my inner city hoods, around Kallio and Vallila. But not because of some pretense of hipness…

 

5. …but because it’s going to retain a sense of place when ruska is over and fall is at its worst.

 
 

 
 

6. To each their own. But the point is: nature lovers, don’t waste a minute of this.

 

7. Anyway, you can’t get this in the cities.

 

8. However, nothing will stop you from enjoying wild cloud formations wherever you can see the sky.

 

9. Seriously, these skies are quite something.

 
 

 
 

10. Let’s cut the BS though, we were talking about autumn colors, ruska.

 

11. Again, available wherever they haven’t cut down the trees.

 

12. Autumn colors are caused by the process during which chlorophyll levels decrease in leaves.

 

13. Chlorophyll, the bringer of greenery, and an essential component of photosynthesis, is replaced by cork cells as sunlight and wamth decreases.

 

14. Eventually leaves drop. Without photosynthesis, they’re redundant. So, unless you have matching facades, get your nice photos taken while the leaves haven’t yet fallen.

 
 

 
 

15. Eventually, the end result is this: naked trees, with leaves in a slowly decomposing brown mess.

 

16. Luckily, some trees stay green.

 

17. So, if you notice moments post August 15 that pass for summer, be mindful and savor them.

 

18. One week, you’ll be out and about and enjoying everything about your surroundings.

 

19. Then, it’ll suddenly get rainy, in a way that just feels chilling.

 

20. And before you know it, you’ll just forget to enjoy your everyday surroundings. Moving outdoors becomes a tiresome chore, one which requires preparation.

 
 

 
 

21. Sure, those August and September sunsets are quite something.

 

22. They almost make you appreciate the looming darkness.

 

23. But by early November, a handful of pretty sunsets are among the few outposts of sanity you’ll have left. In Helsinki, you’ll miss the show if you don’t leave work between 4 and 5 pm. Farther up north, any typical office gig will leave you out of daylight.

 

24. With my brain chemistry, only something like this furball can force me to leave the house while there’s light around noon on November weekends.

 

25. But of course, outdoorsy people will crawl the forests for some last edible berries or mushrooms.

 

26. Or they’ll be using their inexplicable energy, to take some last sips of whatever magic takes place at summer cottages.

 
 

 
 

27. Make no mistake, to take a photo like this, you’ll need to get our in the middle of nowhere and be prepared for the freezing cold as soon as you’re not in direct sunlight.

 

28. Here, a regular human just sees a weird big rock, maybe with some understanding that the ice age dragged it there. Outdoorsy folks probably measure it up as potential shelter or whatever.

 

29. Personally, I prefer everyday scenes like these, and muttering about things like ugly elevated highway bridges.

 

30. Luckily I can get dramatic shots like this one just a fifteen minute walk away from my house.

 

31. Again, with the clouds.

 
 

 
 

32. And I much prefer to spend the silver hour on my way home.

 

33. When darkness falls, I want to be real close to home.

 

34. This is the kind of nature sightings I like in fall: old NYC style taxis with campaign stickers for Dick Nixon.

 

35. Anyway, time to head out before everything looks like this.

 

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Thomas Nybergh is a writer and producer for Ink Tank Media in Helsinki. He’s really into topics like information security, but he writes about anything. Occasionally, Thomas gets around to sharing photos on Instagram.

Thomas also co-hosts and produces a podcast based on Very Finnish Problems, the social media sensation.




Title image by Tom Woodward

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Ink Tank - Make words not war Thomas Nybergh

closeup of yellow lego bricks

Last weekend, Helsinki based writer and Ink Tank head honcho Joel Willans tweeted a picture of an 12-year-old’s ingenious minimalist masterpiece. The photo, which originates from Reddit, was shot in a mall in Massachusets. That is, according to the contributing redditor, itcamefromebeneath.

Other kids at the Lego stand created relatively intricate blocky abstractions of real-world objects. Riley took a different approach, putting a single yellow brick at display. In a feat of delightful least-effort imaginative success, the work is described as a worm. The internet went wild, and Joel’s tweet of the photo got a few clever replies among the 131k retweets and press coverage. Let’s have a look at some of the input.

 

 

 

1. First, Riley’s creation

 

2. The Fidget Spinner

 

3. The stolen classic masterpiece

 

 

4. Lego’s marketing was lazy minimalist before Riley made it cool

 

5. The half-baked weed joke

 

6. Accusations of plagiarism

 

What’s next? Well, for Joel, there’s always the next witty outburst on Twitter. For Riley, who knows. Let’s hope school doesn’t ruin any of that budding creativity.

 

Got more clever Lego art or reactions to Riley’s newfound career in the arts? Let us know int he comments section below.

 

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Title image by jakerome

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Ink Tank - Make words not war Thomas Nybergh

Northern lights in Helsinki

Due to long winters and rainy summers, it’s not unusual for someone with the warm, yet reserved Finnish mentality to spend a lot of time being annoyed about things. If you sit down and listen to Finns you’ll probably come across more than a few pet peeves.

To help you prepare, we’ve collected a list of common gripes. If you’re hanging out with Finns, you could do worse than to make bingo cards with these.

 

 

1. The weather

What’s there to like about Finnish weather, most of the time? It keeps you from enjoying the gorgeous surroundings.

 

2. Sweden

Our western neighbor is seen as some kind of annoying big brother figure. Then there is the Swedish national hockey team, which deserves a special level of loathing.

 

3. Russia

For obvious reasons, Finland has a complicated relationship with the great oligarchy of the East. Most annoying: that grumpy bear is a vital trading partner. Infuriating.

 

4. Smalltalk and unsolicited sociability

It’s not uncommon for Finns to hurry into their flats in apartment blocks as to not have to make the choice of whether to greet a neighbor or not.

 

 

5. Wolves

Many “suburban” Finns live in what’s essentially utter wilderness. Still, they remain shocked and appalled by the occasional wolf. If a wolf is spotted, panic and hunting mania ensues.

 

6. Themselves

Let’s face it: if most people suck, you probably suck.  A popular source of communal self-loathing (‘myötähäpeä‘) is the English language. Finnish, as fascinating as it is, is a weird affair, and Finnish speakers tend to default to a slightly quirky pronunciation of Finnish. Despite great passive language skills and vocabulary, thanks to subtitled tv, Finns tend to think they’re the only ones who default to speaking English with a distinct accent.

 

7. Sobriety

This is one of those cases where young people these are way saner than even gen X:ers. However, you can still run into situations in Finland where people consider you a buzzkill if you don’t drink. In some circles, even vegans aren’t as annoying as non-drinkers. Doesn’t matter if you’ve discovered that you tend to ruin your life if you touch alcohol, you’ll find out who your true friends are after you decide it’s time to dry up.

 

8. Neighbors

The typical Finnish agricultural landscape of disparate homesteads, rather than villages, is due to a relatively recent land reform. However, many Finns remember their roots in these landscapes and have taken to heart an attitude of Finns just being unable to bear too many people. This makes the idealized version of Finnish life a bizarre version of suburbia, highways and strip malls in the wilderness.

 


 

9. Politicians

If you’re popular for some reason, for example through some general purpose celebrity, don’t make the mistake of turning to politics. People will loathe you and move on to idealizing the police and military.

 


 

10. Being successful

The law of Jante has to be one of the most dreadful properties of small Nordic societies – don’t think you’re special or better than us. Or rather, don’t make us think you think you’re better than us. If you have ambitions, leave for whatever passes as cities in Finland.

 

Now, here’s the thing: if you’re a Finn, our list probably left out some vital object of your annoyance and hate. To tell us just how much you loathe us for missing these important facts, let your rage flow into the comment section below.

 

Title photo by Title credits.

 

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Ink Tank - Make words not war Thomas Nybergh

Jani Ylinampa's photo of northern lights over a small river in Lapland, Finland

 
Jani Ylinampa works as a safari guide in Lapland. But on the side, he’s a photographer who’s developed quite the following on social media, in part thanks to his stunning shots of northern lights. We saw it fitting to feature Jani’s work and ask him a couple of question on his work and lifestyle.

You can buy prints of Jani’s photos on 500px.

 
Jani Ylinampa: photo of small island from above during winter

1. How did you develop an interest for photography and when did careful documentation of northern lights become a part of it?

“I started photographing casually about 15 years ago, I took a camera with me when I was hiking in the northern Lapland and northern Norway. Since then I have gradually widened my perspective about photographing and I got my first DSLR in 2009. I shot my first northern lights photo in 2012, when I saw the lights from my balcony and decided trying to take a photo. Until that moment I had been a bit lazy to learn more about photography, and for a while my method was a bit of learning by doing mistakes (forgetting to set the focus to infinity etc.). At first I was just photographing the northern lights, didn’t really worry about anything else. Nowadays I try to find something interesting also on the foreground.”

 



 

Jani Ylinampa: stars reflecting in lake

 

2. You work as a guide in the far north. What are your best tips for surviving kaamos, the period during which the sun doesn’t rise?

“Eat well (and vitamins), sleep enough (it should be easy to sleep, in the summer it might be a quite another matter ? ), go outdoors (if the sun is not out there, the moon and the northern lights might be), interact with people.”

 
Jani Ylinampa: Northern lights by lake

 

3. What kind of gear do you use?

Canon EOS 6D

  • Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8
  • Canon EF 28mm f/1.8
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
  • Canon EF 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6
  • Samyang 14mm f/2.8
  • Samyang 8mm T3.8

Sony A7S

  • Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN Art

DJI Phantom 2 & GoPro Hero 4 Black

Jani Ylinampa: summer photo of small island near ROvaniemi

 



 

For more of Hani Ylinampa’s faboulous photography, you can follow him where you like to enjoy photography

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/janiylinampa/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JaniYlinampaPhotography/

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/janiylinampa/

500px: https://500px.com/janiylinampa

 
Jani Ylinampa's photo of misty Lapland terrain and northern lights

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Ink Tank - Make words not war Thomas Nybergh

Jani Ylinampa's photo of northern lights over a small river in Lapland, Finland

 
Jani Ylinampa works as a safari guide in Lapland. But on the side, he’s a photographer who’s developed quite the following on social media, in part thanks to his stunning shots of northern lights. We saw it fitting to feature Jani’s work and ask him a couple of question on his work and lifestyle.

You can buy prints of Jani’s photos on 500px.

 
Jani Ylinampa: photo of small island from above during winter

1. How did you develop an interest for photography and when did careful documentation of northern lights become a part of it?

“I started photographing casually about 15 years ago, I took a camera with me when I was hiking in the northern Lapland and northern Norway. Since then I have gradually widened my perspective about photographing and I got my first DSLR in 2009. I shot my first northern lights photo in 2012, when I saw the lights from my balcony and decided trying to take a photo. Until that moment I had been a bit lazy to learn more about photography, and for a while my method was a bit of learning by doing mistakes (forgetting to set the focus to infinity etc.). At first I was just photographing the northern lights, didn’t really worry about anything else. Nowadays I try to find something interesting also on the foreground.”

 



 

Jani Ylinampa: stars reflecting in lake

 

2. You work as a guide in the far north. What are your best tips for surviving kaamos, the period during which the sun doesn’t rise?

“Eat well (and vitamins), sleep enough (it should be easy to sleep, in the summer it might be a quite another matter ? ), go outdoors (if the sun is not out there, the moon and the northern lights might be), interact with people.”

 
Jani Ylinampa: Northern lights by lake

 

3. What kind of gear do you use?

Canon EOS 6D

  • Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8
  • Canon EF 28mm f/1.8
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
  • Canon EF 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6
  • Samyang 14mm f/2.8
  • Samyang 8mm T3.8

Sony A7S

  • Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN Art

DJI Phantom 2 & GoPro Hero 4 Black

Jani Ylinampa: summer photo of small island near ROvaniemi

 



 

For more of Hani Ylinampa’s faboulous photography, you can follow him where you like to enjoy photography

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/janiylinampa/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JaniYlinampaPhotography/

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/janiylinampa/

500px: https://500px.com/janiylinampa

 
Jani Ylinampa's photo of misty Lapland terrain and northern lights

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Ink Tank - Make words not war Thomas Nybergh

Yolocaust: jumping on dead jews

Warning: this article contains disturbing pictures.

Israeli, Germany-based artist and satirist Shahak Shapira is justifiably tired of a certain trend at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial monument. That is social media posts with goofy selfies and other pics of leisurely activities taken at the Memorial.

The spot in Berlin’s Mitte district is often explored using means such as skateboarding, biking or just sitting around. After all, there’s a lot of creative ways to use a bunch of concrete slabs.

Regrettably, these blocks happen to symbolize the 6 million Jews who were systematically murdered under Nazi rule, before and during World War II.

Young women posting with selfie stick at Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

So, Shapira collected a bunch of these offending pics from social networks such as Instagram, Tinder and Grindr. Then, he made collages of the people in the pics photoshopped into grim photos of piles of genocide victims.

Very fittingly, Shapira has named his project Yolocaust, in reference to Yolo, an acronym for “you live only once”. The catchphrase has become a kind of ‘carpe diem’ for everyone’s favorite scapegoat, millennials.

Holocaust mashup: selfie stick and dead bodies

The results of his work are on display in full, together with the original social posts on his site Yolocaust.de. The collages are haunting and macabre. Sometimes, if you’re far enough removed from this atrocity, their arrangements are close to humorous.

It’s the guilt trip of the century, posing lots of questions, starting with superficial ones, such as how we should carry our lighthearted, youthful and careless selves in public.

Tourists posing at wagon filled with Holocaust victims

Yet, this may not be far removed at all for some our readers. Some of you may be only a generation or two removed from the fresh wounds of the Holocaust. And for that matter, the bizarre tendencies of antisemitism are just now starting to make itself more visible again, both in Europe and the USA.

It needs to be said: at Ink Tank, we’re no strangers to dark humor. It’s inherently human to try and absorb horrible things through humor. Yet, from the outside, and when the collective outrage is activated, it can be hard to read anything but superficial glee, even malice from the subjects in some of these pictures.




At the same time, I have the personal experience of having attended a school trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. I just felt numb for weeks about the insanity of it all, even as my face was rubbed in it. Emotions hit me later, long after returning home.

Which is to say that I indeed find it in poor taste to dance at the Memorial, but that I can see how little actual emotional labor goes into processing a memorial like this, in real time.

Man juggling in Holocaust mass grave

That’s why this writer would like to think that most these pictures are the result of thoughtlessness and forgetfulness of the nature of the public place in which they’re taken and that of the mediums through which they’re posted.

That’s why we’ve chosen to blur the faces of the subjects in the subset of Shapira’s pictures included in this article. After all, these are victimless offenses: the Holocaust victims are already dead. The potential victims here are people who displayed a large dose of bad taste in public, if we choose to focus on them.

The blurring can be seen as a futile gesture, as these pictures have been copied and viewed countless times already. And they’re all there, on Shahak Shapira’s site. Still, I don’t want to take the easy route of seeing this piece of art as a wall of shame for some guilty individuals. Rather, they’re representatives for all of us.

Women smiling in Holocaust mass grave

The banality of these pictures is such a great example of why it’s been wise of the international Jewish communities and various other institutions to try and keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.

Whatever reason, dark humor, ignorance or otherwise people have for posing like this at at the Memorial, Shapira’s work can hopefully be a little kick in their behind to make the Holocaust real.

This writer agrees with Shapira’s through provoking reminder of the nature of Memorial. In his statement, Shapira indeed reminds us that the Holocaust victims can’t be offended. However, we choose how we remember people who’ve died in completely vain, unnecessary, large-scale atrocities.

Young men jumping at dead victims of the Holocaust

I can also agree with how Shapira, on his site, points out the Holocaust as having certain unique characteristics. First comes to mind the process resembling industrial production with which Hitler’s people exterminated Jews and other minorities.

Sadly, this writer has to say he feels circumspect about a narrative that attributes too much uniqueness to the Holocaust, beyond the.. innovative industrial scale of it all.

Yet, the culture of Holocaust awareness spread by, initially, the relatives of its victims, has worked. At least until now. The concentration camps have a place in public sphere and are associated with Hitler’s Germany.

The popularized narrative of the Holocaust as a German phenomenon fails to reveal the larger context of European antisemitism. With its rich history of mind-boggling conspiracy theories, hating Jews was very far from new in the time leading up to the Holocaust.

Taking a wider view, Genocides or “ethnic cleansing” require the failure to see fellow humans in undesired Others. Genocidal acts can be close at hand when a sense of otherness is combined with despotism and war.

Young woman performing acrobatics beside dead bodies of Holocaust victims




It would be a great disservice to ourselves not to remind ourselves about other recent genocides, like those in Darfur, Sudan (2003), Rwanda or Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s. Then there are instances like the Turkish state, which still actively denies and spreads propaganda about the Armenian genocide in 1915.

Almost every war, civil wars in particular, have events with characteristics similar to that of mass rapes and killings of civilians men, women and children.

Simply put: genocides, ethnic cleansing and mass killings have happened again. Multiple times in fact, relatively close to any part of the planet with a sizable human population. The trains to extermination camps may not run as well as in Nazi Germany, but regular humans are universally capable of these acts.

Really grasping these facts, on a personal, emotional level, should reduce your tendency to dance at Holocaust memorials. Even more so than the risk of public shaming.

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Ink Tank - Make words not war Thomas Nybergh

Yolocaust: jumping on dead jews

Warning: this article contains disturbing pictures.

Israeli, Germany-based artist and satirist Shahak Shapira is justifiably tired of a certain trend at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial monument. That is social media posts with goofy selfies and other pics of leisurely activities taken at the Memorial.

The spot in Berlin’s Mitte district is often explored using means such as skateboarding, biking or just sitting around. After all, there’s a lot of creative ways to use a bunch of concrete slabs.

Regrettably, these blocks happen to symbolize the 6 million Jews who were systematically murdered under Nazi rule, before and during World War II.

Young women posting with selfie stick at Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

So, Shapira collected a bunch of these offending pics from social networks such as Instagram, Tinder and Grindr. Then, he made collages of the people in the pics photoshopped into grim photos of piles of genocide victims.

Very fittingly, Shapira has named his project Yolocaust, in reference to Yolo, an acronym for “you live only once”. The catchphrase has become a kind of ‘carpe diem’ for everyone’s favorite scapegoat, millennials.

Holocaust mashup: selfie stick and dead bodies

The results of his work are on display in full, together with the original social posts on his site Yolocaust.de. The collages are haunting and macabre. Sometimes, if you’re far enough removed from this atrocity, their arrangements are close to humorous.

It’s the guilt trip of the century, posing lots of questions, starting with superficial ones, such as how we should carry our lighthearted, youthful and careless selves in public.

Tourists posing at wagon filled with Holocaust victims

Yet, this may not be far removed at all for some our readers. Some of you may be only a generation or two removed from the fresh wounds of the Holocaust. And for that matter, the bizarre tendencies of antisemitism are just now starting to make itself more visible again, both in Europe and the USA.

It needs to be said: at Ink Tank, we’re no strangers to dark humor. It’s inherently human to try and absorb horrible things through humor. Yet, from the outside, and when the collective outrage is activated, it can be hard to read anything but superficial glee, even malice from the subjects in some of these pictures.




At the same time, I have the personal experience of having attended a school trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. I just felt numb for weeks about the insanity of it all, even as my face was rubbed in it. Emotions hit me later, long after returning home.

Which is to say that I indeed find it in poor taste to dance at the Memorial, but that I can see how little actual emotional labor goes into processing a memorial like this, in real time.

Man juggling in Holocaust mass grave

That’s why this writer would like to think that most these pictures are the result of thoughtlessness and forgetfulness of the nature of the public place in which they’re taken and that of the mediums through which they’re posted.

That’s why we’ve chosen to blur the faces of the subjects in the subset of Shapira’s pictures included in this article. After all, these are victimless offenses: the Holocaust victims are already dead. The potential victims here are people who displayed a large dose of bad taste in public, if we choose to focus on them.

The blurring can be seen as a futile gesture, as these pictures have been copied and viewed countless times already. And they’re all there, on Shahak Shapira’s site. Still, I don’t want to take the easy route of seeing this piece of art as a wall of shame for some guilty individuals. Rather, they’re representatives for all of us.

Women smiling in Holocaust mass grave

The banality of these pictures is such a great example of why it’s been wise of the international Jewish communities and various other institutions to try and keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.

Whatever reason, dark humor, ignorance or otherwise people have for posing like this at at the Memorial, Shapira’s work can hopefully be a little kick in their behind to make the Holocaust real.

This writer agrees with Shapira’s through provoking reminder of the nature of Memorial. In his statement, Shapira indeed reminds us that the Holocaust victims can’t be offended. However, we choose how we remember people who’ve died in completely vain, unnecessary, large-scale atrocities.

Young men jumping at dead victims of the Holocaust

I can also agree with how Shapira, on his site, points out the Holocaust as having certain unique characteristics. First comes to mind the process resembling industrial production with which Hitler’s people exterminated Jews and other minorities.

Sadly, this writer has to say he feels circumspect about a narrative that attributes too much uniqueness to the Holocaust, beyond the.. innovative industrial scale of it all.

Yet, the culture of Holocaust awareness spread by, initially, the relatives of its victims, has worked. At least until now. The concentration camps have a place in public sphere and are associated with Hitler’s Germany.

The popularized narrative of the Holocaust as a German phenomenon fails to reveal the larger context of European antisemitism. With its rich history of mind-boggling conspiracy theories, hating Jews was very far from new in the time leading up to the Holocaust.

Taking a wider view, Genocides or “ethnic cleansing” require the failure to see fellow humans in undesired Others. Genocidal acts can be close at hand when a sense of otherness is combined with despotism and war.

Young woman performing acrobatics beside dead bodies of Holocaust victims




It would be a great disservice to ourselves not to remind ourselves about other recent genocides, like those in Darfur, Sudan (2003), Rwanda or Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s. Then there are instances like the Turkish state, which still actively denies and spreads propaganda about the Armenian genocide in 1915.

Almost every war, civil wars in particular, have events with characteristics similar to that of mass rapes and killings of civilians men, women and children.

Simply put: genocides, ethnic cleansing and mass killings have happened again. Multiple times in fact, relatively close to any part of the planet with a sizable human population. The trains to extermination camps may not run as well as in Nazi Germany, but regular humans are universally capable of these acts.

Really grasping these facts, on a personal, emotional level, should reduce your tendency to dance at Holocaust memorials. Even more so than the risk of public shaming.

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