Gas Chamber Exhibition Closed in Germany

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A town near Cologne, Germany, has suspended an installation by a Spanish performance artist that resembles a gas chamber after Jewish leaders and Holocaust survivors complained, officials said.

For the piece, "245 Cubic Meters," the artist, Santiago Sierra, hooked the exhaust pipes of six cars up to an old synagogue in Pulheim, flooding the interior with carbon monoxide. Visitors to the installation, which opened on Sunday, were outfitted with breathing masks, above, and were accompanied through the building by a fireman after signing a release saying that they understood the gas was poisonous. Stephan J. Kramer, the general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, has called the work deeply offensive, but the mayor of Pulheim, Karl August Morisse, defended it, saying that the gruesome facts of the Holocaust were "openly addressed." Mr. Sierra, 39, who lives in Mexico, has said that his work is a protest against the "trivialization of the Holocaust." The piece was to run each Sunday through April 30, with a break for Easter on April 16, but a spokesman for the town said that a pause would allow for more debate.

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