Never Forget

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joomplu:76Mel Mermelstein: Leonard Nimoy
William Cox: Dabney Coleman

Jane Mermelstein: Blythe Danner
Richard Fusilier: Paul Hampton

joomplu:76Bernie Mermelstein: Jason Person

Edie Mermelstein: Juliet Sorcey
David Mermelstein: Nicholas Fee

Kenny Mermelstein: Ben Gregory
Elsie Smolena: Hanna Hertelendy
Rabbi Hier: David Margulies
Rabbi Cooper: Thomas Bellin
Ms. Teitler: Tracy Brooks Swope
Schorr: Leslie Morris
Lorraine: Beverly Hope Atkinson
Judge Johnson: Thomas Keena

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Mel Mermelstein is the only survivor of his family who all have been killed in a concentration camp because they were Jewish. He was a child at the time and was deported from Hungary, imprisoned and mistreated as the others, forced to live under inhuman conditjoomplu:76ions.

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Now having his own family and living in America he continues to witness about what happened there. This true story plays in California in the end of the twentieth century.

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Mel Mermelstein collects exhibits from concentration camps. There are worn out shoes, striped jackets, wires, joomplu:76photos and many reminders of a life in a concentration camp.

His wife gives him a hand when he’s arranging the exhibits, placing the exhibits in frames or behind glass to preserve them.
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Mel puts explanations underneath and describes how items were used and under which conditions people had to suffer to anybody interested in learning about the holocaust.
He also visits school classes and answers questions of the children.

His life drastically changes when a letter arrives, addressed to him challenging him to present prove of the Holocaust or – in case he cannot do so – remain silent about it. The „Institute of Historical Research“, people claiming it never happened, offered $ 50,000 as a rewarjoomplu:76d for anybody presenting prove of the holocaust. Their aim is to silence those who care that the Holocaust will not be forgotten. If anybody came up and tried to bring forward evidence, the case would take place in one of their own „courts“ leaving little chance for the challenged person for a fair case and being treated as an offender.

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joomplu:76The family has mixed reactions. All of them are supportive to their father, but got different personal interests. Mel’s wife, goes with him all the way. The eldest son, Bernie, struggles for acceptance of his father in his needs and avoids the exhibition his father works for in his spare time. The daughter is still young and shows him her love, while she is more interested in the father as a person than in his involvement with the topic. The youngest son is very interested in his father’s history, which he realizes is a part of his own. He wants to listen to the stories and to his tattoo showing the number he hjoomplu:76as had in the camp.

Knowing he could not live with a lie or being hushed Mel Mermelstein visits any institution he can think of to get help how to deal wit the letter. joomplu:76joomplu:76No one offers help and every institution and person advises him to back off because there is no chance to present any prove they would not be able to destroy in their own court. Everybody wants to help him, but no one sees a chance to be successful – it has been tried before.

 

joomplu:76One person even takes the letter and throws it into the dustbin, saying that it belongs there, while she’s obviously worried about him wanting to help him. Mel cannot ignore the challenge which would leave him look like a liar and betray all he worked for so hard. Not only did his family die in the Holocaust, but by backing down he would be part of those responsible for the Holocaust is not being remembered. After an inner fight he takes the letter out of the dustbin, stating to the woman that she has no right to throw away his letter for him. It is addressed to him and it is up to him how to handle it.
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A scene in his office – he’s running a woodwork business – shows that Mel does not seem to be the typical fighter. When a wrong delivery arrives, he tells the secretary she should be more strict and she answers ironically: „Yes, Mel, you are such a tough guy!“ showing clearly that she likes him the way he is – not such a tough guy. And now it is on him to fight an organization which tries to force him to remain silent. Alone, for everybody and any institution advises him to handle the letter as the woman had done.
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Even lawyers cannot find a helpful solution – until he gets to a lawyer, William Cox, who’s sorry too that he cannot do anything at first.

joomplu:76He too sees the desperation in Mel’s face and keeps thinking about the enormous injustice of the situation … until he finds a way, knocks at the Mermelstein’s door in the middle of the night and suggests his plan: to answer the letter, accepting their terms. The institution, he joomplu:76says, does no really want to find prove, but to get rid of people who remember. They would not take his offer to present the truth, because they would expect him to ignore the letter – which would be the same as admitting that the Holocaust is not a fact.

Or they expect him to offer to come but not really make it. Cox‘ idea is based on a case in which a simple breaking of a contract provides a law case – in an American official court. If no answer to his letter came in 30 days time, the institute would have broken a contract. After a while and after discussing it with his wife and the family, Mel hires Cox to pursue the case. He answers the letter and anxiously observes the daily post to arrive – no answer from them.

joomplu:76On the 30th day, he gets up early and rushes to the post office where the post is sorted. He finds the postman and receives his own post. „I hope you found what you are looking for,“ the postman wishes him. „No, no, no! Luckily not!“ Mel shouts back in relieved excitement rushing to the lawyer’s home. As happy as they are in the moment, both know it’s just begun….. They accuse the institution for breaking of contract. A law case is filled.joomplu:76

Before the day of the hearing arrives the months are filled with tragedy. Too much background work, preparations, research and reading must be done, so that Mel’s work is suffering. And so is the family. Mel to go to a show in school where the daughter has got a role to play. She tells him all about it and says that what he is doing is more important than a performance in school. Mel is working long nights showing signs of exhaustion and the eldest feels that he is not important to his father. He shows his anger while discussing the situation with his father. „When I say ‚I am hungry‘, you always say ‚You never experienced real hunger‘, referring to hunger in the concentration camp. I simply cannot compete with ‚them‘!“

Understandingly Mel gets aware how deep his involvement with the history affects the family. Though they play ball togetherjoomplu:76 and share meals with harmony, humor and discussions, the case becomes a permanent present threat. One day the young daughter opens a letter addressed to the family – to find cut of hair from gassed Jews as stated in the letter. She joomplu:76screams and is hugged, but all suffer under the cruelty and inhuman actions still possible in the late 20th century. Like the day they find a dead pig in front of their door and masses of reporters recklessly pursuing them for commends. And in their preparations they are forced to handle dirty literature, sleazy drawings and lies without end. Hardly being able to believe all that ignorance being possible in this part of the world in this time, they go on with the preparations taking their toll, too.
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Mel and Cox go to a meeting of people denying the holocaust has happened. Mel is supposed to face them, to become aware what lies ahead and to control himself.
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Succeeding in the first two, he simply has to loose control when hearinjoomplu:76g that what people have been forced to suffer is publicly called a lie.

 

An address of a friendly old Lady, a relative, might help them to find another witness. When Mel and his wife visit her, all seems to be all right, joomplu:76until they mention the camp. Her neurotic fear is revealed by the thought of it. She still sees „them“ coming and closes the doors, hushes the Mermelsteins and tells them that „they” are coming every night. Mel and his wife see the traumatic impact the concentration camp still has on her. They comfort her and surely cannot mention the camp again.
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The nerves of the family are put to another test when they get a call: There is a fire in the exhibition. As Mel runs to the car the eldest son suddenly decides to go with his father. Firemen all around they get informed that it was a false alarm. Anyway Mel wants to check on the exhibition and finds nothing damaged or missing. Bernie walks around the rooms in wonder.

Slowly he realizes what it is all about and admits to his father that he hasn’t been here for a long time. He begins to understand his father and is interested in the photos. On one picture he sees a figure amongst the joomplu:76skinny victims and asks: „Is this you, father?“ Mel confirms and shares that he was about his son’s age at the time. Suddenly they become afraid: What if the fake call was to get them away from the house? They phone to find out that the family is o. k. The more incidents occur the less convinced Mel becomes. He thinks of his family and what the case is doing to them. And he thinks of giving up. Which he suggests. Now all the family is sure: They have gone so far and they go on backing up their father’s case.
joomplu:76Days later a meeting with two representatives of the institution reveals their practices.

Twisting his statements, recklessly ignoring the suffering and blaming him to have invented or just imagined the killing of his parents … – all said smilingly to provoke him. It results in sad despair.

Unable to grasp the unbelievable coldness and bending of truth Mel begins to cry. At home his family is awaiting him. Exhausted and out of voice after hours of interrogation Mel shares with them: „They can mjoomplu:76ake you say anything. There really is a chance we can loose the case.“

Finally in court: Self assured representatives from the institution against a family and a lawyer who know that so far the lies could not have been stopped. They reassure each other by eye contact. The judge begins the case by stating that this is officially a case of a broken contract. But he is not willing to treat it as such. The main subject of the case will handle the question whether there has been a holocaust or not.
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Cross examination of witnesses. In the end the judge asks Mel why he does not stop talking about the holocaust. Mel shares that he was the only survivor and that he has promised his father, before he was killjoomplu:76ed, never to stop talking about what happened there and whatever happens he would never forget his promise given to his father. The ruling of the court states that the holocaust is a fact and that it is a crime to deny the fact.

The personal witnessing of Mel Mermelstein about the concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland was one part besides proven historical facts. This was the first court ruling to officially state that there was a holocaust. A relieved family and the lawyer fall into each others arms. They have achieved that the holocaust is treated as a non deniable fact  from now on. – knowing the lies will go on …

Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUuWUPQVVYU

Part 2

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmYZP-KwTJY&feature=related

Part 3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOWN_dR5dJc&feature=related

Part 4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0Dt7M77Smk&feature=related

Part 5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_EDAWdsN9Q&feature=related

Part 6

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCu8h5EmD8g&feature=related

Part 7

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtC66ZGmpiU&feature=related

Part 8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-Smgas9h3k&feature=related

Part 9

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fA7aQisIyTA&feature=related

Impressum

Collection of pictures, writing of summaries, any contents work: Margitta,
Webmaster (Technik): Bernd

Disclaimer:
This is a fan work, a work of love. No one is gaining any financial profit of this page. Anything on this page belongs to those who own it. No harm or infringement is intended at all. If you mind your work, pictures or anything which is yours being advertised or made known of in this way, please, let us know. If you have got any work of Leonard Nimoy’s and you don’t find it in this collection, please, share with us.
All these years of work on this page is an attempt to find a meaningful way to say:„Thanks to Leonard Nimoy“.

The „Thanks to Leonard Nimoy Fan Group“ website / Facebook site is not legally affiliated with the „Thanks to Leonard Nimoy“ website. Actually no page on the net is affiliated with this website. All links included to „Links“ have been listed at a time nothing illegal or unpleasent has been detected in the contents of those links. 

Mr. Spock’s Alter Ego

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LN (visiting Israel at present): I found myself in a tiny trailer. The air-conditioner is working, but no cold air is coming out. The door was a curtain, there were flies everywhere and dust and dirt all around me. I have three beautiful homes in Los Angeles, New York and Lake Tahoe in California, and I asked myself: `Why am I wasting my time? Why do I need to do this?‘ At that moment, I knew that I wasn’t going to return to hotels.

Nimoy became a cultural icon thanks to his role as Mr. Spock in the science fiction series Star Trek. This is his fourth visit to Israel, this time as a guest of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles and the Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership. (In 1982, he played the husband of Golda Meir, Morris Myerson, in a film made in Israel.) He has already visited the Tel Aviv Arts School, the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Herzliya Museum of Art, and held master classes in the Beit Zvi drama school. Today he is teaching a directing workshop at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.

Nimoy says that before he arrived, he asked to have recent Israeli films sent to him. He was surprised and very impressed by their high level – not only by the quality of the work, but also by the inner world of the filmmakers. There’s no comparison, he says, to what there was here 20 years ago, and that he now feels that instead of talking about his experience as an actor, he comes to tell people that they are good creative artists.

It is not surprising that Nimoy is giving a workshop on directing. After all, he directed Three Men and a Baby, the successful comedy starring Tom Selleck and Ted Danson (the American adaptation of the French film directed by Coline Serreau); he directed two Star Trek films, including The Voyage Home, which is considered the best in the series and films starring Diane Keaton and Liam Neeson (The Good Mother); Gene Wilder and Christine Lahti (Funny About Love) and Patricia Arquette (Holy Matrimony).
LN: I never planned to direct. I loved to act.

In the early 1960s, he studied acting in order to earn a living. Already then they told him he should direct, and he was insulted; he thought it meant that he wasn’t a good enough actor. He says that he came to directing by chance. When the filming of Star Trek III began, he asked Paramount to direct the film, and after several weeks of discussion, they agreed. When the same executives went over to work with Disney, they offered to have him direct Three Men and a Baby.

However, even though he has directed, written, become a stills photographer who exhibits his work, has performed on Broadway, and more, he is familiar all over the world as the man with the pointy ears. Nimoy doesn’t seem upset about that. He even enjoys it: About 10 days ago, he participated in a convention of Star Trek fans in Germany, something he usually does twice a year.

LN: From the age of 18 I dreamed of being an actor. My parents weren’t happy with my choice, and I left home to the furthest place I could find.
For 15 years, Nimoy looked for work in acting, and meanwhile he worked as a taxi driver, a life insurance salesman, a newspaper delivery boy, a salesman in a pet shop, a waiter, an ice cream vendor – any kind of work he could find that didn’t require commitment, so he would be able to leave the moment the great opportunity presented itself.

Stepping into a long role

Nimoy says that when he was offered to play Spock in Star Trek, that was actually his first long job, and afterward, when the series was aired, he no longer had to look for work. He says that he won’t forget the hard years, which taught him to appreciate what he had. That is also why he doesn’t see himself as an icon. He says he relates to himself as a laborer, a working man.

Not many of the millions of Star Trek fans know that Spock’s special gesture – splitting his fingers, two on each side – is taken from Jewish tradition. Nimoy says that he talks about it, and that even at the conference in Germany he told the participants about it. He remembers that when he was eight years old, in the synagogue with his father and his grandfather, during the priestly benediction, they placed a tallit (prayer shawl) over their heads. His father told him not to peek, but he did anyway, and he saw them forming this symbol with their fingers and shouting: „May God bless you and keep you…“ The movement of the hand creates the letter „shin,“ the first letter in the word „Shaddai,“ one of the names of God.

Nimoy says that during all his years of work, he has always identified as a Jew. As a young man, he even thought of living in Israel.
LN: I’m a Jew, I never hid it, and I never had a problem with it. Whenever I had an opportunity to play a Jewish character, I jumped at it.

He says that when he played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, people wondered how he could portray a character with such depth.

Nimoy also acted in a successful TV movie Never Forget based on a true story, which was produced in 1990. He played Mel Mermelstein, who established a small museum in his home for studying the Holocaust, and was invited by a group of Holocaust deniers to a public trial, in which he would have to prove that there were gas chambers in which Jews were exterminated. The people in the group told him that if he won, he would receive $50,000. Mermelstein accepted the challenge, but the members of the group – who were relying on his refusal – repeatedly postponed the trial. Mermelstein turned to the courts and sued the group for not holding the trial – and won.

But the most famous Jew that Nimoy played was Morris Myerson. Nimoy says, smiling, that at first he refused to accept the part. He read the script and felt that the character of Myerson had no depth. He was used to playing people of stronger character, and didn’t know how he could play someone who trailed behind Golda. Golda told her husband „I want to go to Palestine,“ and he agreed. But when Nimoy was told that Ingrid Bergman was going to play Golda, he changed his mind.

Nimoy met the director, Alan Gibson, only on the set in Israel. One day, when Nimoy asked him for an explanation of some scene, the director attacked him and said: „What difference does it make? You’re the wrong person for this role in any case.“ In spite of Nimoy’s fears and Gibson’s lack of confidence in him, the actor was praised for his portrayal and nominated for the Emmy for this role.

In recent years, Nimoy has focused on photography, publishing in 2002 a book of photographs called Shekhina, which contains black-and-white photos of women, some of them in the nude, who for him represent the divine presence. On the book jacket there is a female figure wearing transparent fabric and on her arm, tefillin (phylacteries). He says that when religion and sexuality are mixed, there will always be people who say it is bad. He was pleased that the book was well-received. But there were also harsh reactions from Orthodox Jews. In Seattle they asked him not to attend a dinner to which he had been invited, because for fear of riots. And in Detroit he was supposed to participate in a Jewish book fair at the local Jewish center, but the rabbi told the organizers that if he came with the book, the rabbi would remove the certification of kashrut from the local restaurant.
 

http://www.haaretz.com/culture/arts-leisure/mr-spock-s-alter-ego-1.159009

Home-Welcome

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Wegen massiver Angriffe auf unser altes Joomla-System, mussten wir etwas schneller umziehen als wir wollten. Entschuldigung, falls es hier und da noch "etwas hakt" …

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Dear visitor,
welcome to a collection of Leonard Nimoy's
enormous range of work in this
Leonard Nimoy encyclopedia and link-archiv

This is our attempt to say:
"Thank you, Leonard!"
because he gave so much through his art,
his kindness and his love for people.

Leonard, Yehuda Lev,
we will always think of you 
and be grateful to you!

 

{besps}home{/besps}

Leonard Nimoy was a wonderful gentleman who valued people and had the gift to elevate them in a dignified, caring, determined and sensitive way.
His great insight and depth, his daring to explore new things and his tackling of challenging situations made him a true Renaissance man. His engagement in countless fields of art and work made him wise and his statements were always clear. When I asked Leonard what one could "give back" he said: "Support the local artists". 

I send my heartfelt condolences to all who cared for him and loved him.alt
Margitta                  

Press release from the White House:

 

Leonard Nimoy via Twitter on February 23rd: 
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
 

With most of the summaries you'll find videos or links to their original site. The pictures in the pages open when you click them. Clicking the blue words in the lists gets you to the articles.

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Join Leonard in supporting SEARCH (click on the photo:)  
Direct link to Leonard's letter: A Plea for Peace in the Middle East

You find Leonard Nimoy's most recent works to buy under this link (LL&P shop) and Alien Voices MP3s here. Here you find *the interview Leonard gave us*.

Join the Yahoo Group leonardnimoythegreatalt and here you visit our sister webpage Maiden Wine. The German translation of "A Lifetime of Love" you find under "Ein Leben voller Liebe" on the German speaking net for example and for buyers from the US and others under this link
 

You´re visitor Nr.
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since 2002 July 26

Photographer

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Leonard Nimoy’s Photography Website 
on  R. Michelson Galleries

In Sotheby’s „Master’s of the Medium“ Photography auction this week, Nimoy’s work was included among the greats: Ansel Adams, Man Ray, Robert Mapplethorpe, Edward Weston, Lewis Hine, Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, among others.

„I became involved in photography when I was about thirteen years old. A neighborhood friend showed me how it was possible to go to a camera shop and pick up chemicals for pennies… literally… and develop your own film and make prints.“

In this collection I am concerned with artful voyeurism. The model is given license to explore a personal experience which is often quite moving, although the photographer’s presence inescapably alters the moment. To reclaim their deepest human emotions, the subjects must turn back to the internal space and free themselves of the contact with me or my camera. It is the instant between the private and the seen, that brief affirmation of the self which I find deeply affecting and the one that I strive to capture and pass along to the viewer.
— Leonard Nimoy

alt„For me it is all about personal vision. Is there something about a subject that uniquely speaks to me? … I’m attracted to images that come from a personal exploration of a subject matter. When they have a personal stamp to them, then I think it becomes identifiable.“

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„I think at first, photographers are so preoccupied with ‚how‘ to take a picture. I think it’s helpful to get past that as soon as possible, because far more difficult to find out is ‘why’ you’re shooting pictures…“

„My photography is conceptual. What am I trying to discover, explore, reveal with each photograph ? What will make this image special ? What comment does it make on our lives?“ (s: Home/Interviews/Leonard Nimoy answers Margitta’s questions)
 

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„The artistic process for me I have described as stepping into a totally darkened room, there are holes in the floor and the job is to find the light-switch to turn on the light.“ (s: Interviews/Callie Crossley Show)

 

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Leonard Nimoy studied photography under Robert Heineken at UCLA in the 70s. His work is on display at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, and according to R. Michelson Galleries, Nimoy’s work can be seen at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Judah L. Magnes Museum, The LA County Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum of NY, The New Orleans Museum of Fine Art and The Hammer Museum.

Visit
Leonard Nimoy’s Photography Website on  R. Michelson Galleries alt

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Secret Selves : T- shirts alt

Honorary Master of Fine Arts degree in photography
from Brooks Institute: 
 
We congratulate Leonard for his achievements in photography and are glad that his very special work is being honored this way.
His graduation speech was inspirational and gave the graduates and attendees insight into his vision of what he sees through the lens.
Link
 

Working with people posing for „Secret Selves„,
first working title: „Who Do You Think You Are?“:

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Link to Secret Selves videos + summary
 

 

Leonard Nimoy: Shot this in Spain
while filming „Catlow“ with Yul Brynner. LLAP
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See Epix Fan interview : 
 @ BrubakerID: Do you still use film in your photography these days or have you made the digital transition? Which do you prefer? 

altLeonard Nimoy: My most recent photography work has been digital. I did my own black&white photography work for many years on film, I processed my own film, made all my own prints. I don’t spend time in the darkroom any more, I call my digital printing person and tell them: ‚Make me a print‘ and it works out as well. I get to spend more time with my family. 

(from R. Michelson Galeries:)

Leonard Nimoy first experienced the magic of making photographic images as a teen-ager in the early 1940s. His darkroom was the family bathroom in their small Boston apartment. His subjects were family and friends. He studied at UCLA under Robert Heineken in the early 1970s and later received an “artist in residence” appointment at the American Academy in Rome.

Besides his rising stature as a major contemporary American photographer, in his spare time Mr. Nimoy moonlights as an actor, director, philanthropist, and as one of the world’s best loved and respected personalities, Mr. Spock.

Mr. Nimoy’s photography is included in many museum collections, including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Judah L. Magnes Museum, The LA County Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum of NY, The New Orleans Museum of Fine Art and The Hammer Museum. His most recent show at MassMOCA was one of ArtNet’s 10 Best exhibitions of 2010.

Go here for the making of, photos and more of Secret Selves on the „thanks to Leonard Nimyo page“ 

The following statements are all taken from R. Michelson Galeries:

Secret Selves

Do you have a Secret Self?

According to Greek mythology, humans were once four legged and four armed.
When they became too arrogant and powerful Zeus split them in two.

Since then mankind is in constant search for our other half in order to feel complete.

Do you have another half? Do you have a self never revealed? Who do you think you are?

In November 2008, Leonard Nimoy was at R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, Massachusetts, to begin his latest photographic journey: Secret Selves. We gathered 100 subjects from all walks of life: artists, clergy, politicians, business owners, and asked them the question, Who do you think you are? Each subject was recorded as Mr. Nimoy interviewed them and created a portrait of their “alternate identity.” The results will be revealed in a major exhibition beginning in the summer of 2010.

As Mr. Nimoy wrote: I am hoping to be surprised and delighted by what shows up in front of me. Anything from full costume to nudity, and I would encourage all of it. The „Secret Self“ is the most provocative idea. Do you have a secret self?

Read Richard Michelson’s essay on the Secret Selves project included in the book. (PDF, 62kb)

An 80 page catalog has been published in conjunction with the exhibition Secret Selves and includes a foreword by Joseph Thompson, Director of MASS MoCA; an introduction by Leonard Nimoy; a behind-the-scenes description of the project by Richard Michelson, and an essay by John Stomberg, Chief Curator of the Williams College Museum of Art. The publication is fully illustrated with full page plates of the 25 photographs featured in the exhibition as well as over 80 additional images from the series.

The Full Body Project 

Who are these women? Why are they in these pictures? What are their lives about? How do they feel about themselves? These are some of the questions I wanted to raise through the images in this collection.

This current body of work is a departure for me. For a number of years, I have been producing images using the female figure. I have worked with numerous models who were professional people earning their living by posing, acting, dancing, or any combination thereof. But, as has been pointed out to me in discussions at exhibitions of my work, the people in these pictures always fell under the umbrella of a certain body type. I’ll call it a „classic“ look. Always within range of the current social consensus of what is „beautiful.“ In fact, that was the adjective I most often heard when my work was exhibited. The women as they appeared in my images were allotted no individual identity. They were hired and directed to help me express an idea—sometimes about sexuality, sometimes about spirituality—and usually about feminine power. But the pictures were not about them. They were illustrating a theme, a story I hoped to convey.

These women are interested in „fat liberation.“ They hold jobs in the theater, the film industry and in business—and together they perform in a burlesque presentation called „Fat Bottom Revue.“ The nature and degree of costuming and nudity in their performances is determined by the venue and the audience, which can range from children’s birthday parties, to stag parties. I wanted these pictures to be more about them. These women are projecting an image that is their own. And one that also stems fro m their own story rather than mine. Their self-esteem is strong. One of them has a degree in anthropology and will tell you that ideas of beauty and sexuality are „culture bound“—that these ideas are not universal or fixed, and that they vary and fluctuate depending on place and time. They will tell you that too many people suffer because the body they live in is not the body you find in the fashion magazines.

My process was simple, yet different than how I had worked in the past. I was initially interested in revisiting two works of female subjects by Herb Ritts and Helmut Newton: specifically Ritts‘ image of a group of supermodels, who were posed nude and clustered together on the floor, and a Newton diptych wherein the two images are identical in pose, except one image showed the models clothed, and the other showed them unclothed. The models were shown the images by Herb Ritts and Helmut Newton and they were quite prepared to present themselves in response to the poses that those images suggested. I asked them to be proud, which was a condition they took to easily, quite naturally. Having completed the compositions that were initially planned, I then asked them to play some music that they had brought with them, and they quickly responded to the rhythms, dancing in a free-form circular movement with in the space. It was clear that they were comfortable with the situation, with each other, and were enjoying themselves.

With these new images, I am now hearing different words. Sometimes „beautiful,“ but with a different sub-text. I hear comments, which lead to questions. The questions lead to discussions—about beauty, social acceptability, plastic surgery, our culture and health. In these pictures these women are proudly wearing their own skin. They respect themselves and I hope that my images convey that to others. 

 

Shekhina

When Leonard Nimoy’s book of photography, Shekhina, was published in 2002, it created a ruckus. His depiction of alluringly glamorous women — some wearing tefillin in all their naked glory — as the essence of the feminine manifestation of God struck some as revolutionary and others as salacious. The book sold well, and even inspired a ballet aptly named, Shekhina by a New York choreographer.

A feminine word in Hebrew, Shekhina is the Talmudic term for the visible and audible manifestations of the Deity’s presence on Earth. Over time, Shekhina came to represent much more — a softer, empathetic feminine counterpart to God who could argue for humanity’s sake, comfort the poor and sick, and stand as the mother of Israel. Nimoy’s first encounter with the mystique of Shekhina began in synagogue at the age of 8. „The men were chanting, shouting and praying in an Orthodox service. It was very passionate, very theatrical,“ said Nimoy. His father told him not to look, as the worshippers averted their eyes during blessings recited by the kohanim, or descendants of the priestly class. „I was chilled by the whole thing,“ he said. Years later Nimoy’s rabbi explained to him that the entry of Shekhina into the sanctuary to bless the congregation could cast a fatally blinding light. Such a powerful memory inspired the actor/photographer to explore the feminine aspect of God in human form, including the issues of sensuality and sexuality.

To Nimoy, sexuality and spirituality are not segregated. „There are signs throughout the writings and history of Judaism that sexuality has always been a strong part of the teaching and culture of religious practice,“ said Nimoy, citing the examples of the Friday night bath to cleanse before sex and the teachings of the Kabbalists.
 

Eye Contact

In this collection I am concerned with artful voyeurism. The model is given license to explore a personal experience which is often quite moving, although the photographer’s presence inescapably alters the moment. To reclaim their deepest human emotions, the subjects must turn back to the internal space and free themselves of the contact with me or my camera. It is the instant between the private and the seen, that brief affirmation of the self which I find deeply affecting and the one that I strive to capture and pass along to the viewer.
— Leonard Nimoy

 

 

Crew

A Special „Thank you!“ to *Anna* who was the first webmaster of this page for 8 years.
Anna, we miss you. Without you this page would never have come to exist.

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Margitta