A Pacific Northwest artist with a stellar pedigree, Charles Krafft rode high as the bad boy of ceramic sculpture until a Seattle newspaper published a piece in 2013 by local art critic Jen Graves, labeling Krafft as a holocaust denier and white nationalist.
The response was instantaneous and foreshadowed the rise of cancel culture: Within months, galleries and museums the world over removed Krafft’s work from exhibition and canceled his participation in shows, symposia and events, according to a release.
Gesa Power House Theatre, 111 N Sixth Ave., will present work-in-progress screenings of the upcoming documentary film “Triggered: The Charles Krafft Story” at 7 p.m. Friday, April 23, and Wednesday, April 28. A pre-recorded conversation between Director of Film Programming Warren Etheredge and filmmaker Nadeem Uddin will follow.
“Triggered” is the story of Krafft’s lifelong quest to tick people off, according to a release.
Where people had previously shown a casual acceptance of his irreverent work, which included exquisite pieces of Delftware china featuring Nazi iconography, suddenly Krafft found himself shunned by friends and colleagues who had before laughed at his pleas for “forgiveness” for the Third Reich, and who had defended his right to make racist and homophobic comments.
After nearly two decades of filming, Director Nadeem Uddin reveals a more complex truth. “Triggered” examines how the Seattle art world ignored, enabled and was even amused by Krafft’s descent into a rabbit hole of conspiracy and white nationalism, according to the release.
The film also explores how Krafft’s growing obsession with Holocaust revisionism closely tracks with the growth of a massive glioblastoma tumor in his brain. Although doctors and psychologists have recorded cases of brain tumors changing people’s personality and beliefs, the possibility was never pursued for Krafft.
Before Krafft died in 2020, he gave filmmakers access to his archives and granted permission for an in-depth portrayal of his life and work.
“While his obsession with Nazis is unpleasant,” Uddin said in the release, “and his holocaust revisionism disgusting, Charles Krafft was also a unique and important figure in the cultural life of the Northwest.”
A native of Bhopal, India, Uddin studied filmmaking in the United States. He is internationally known for his films on diverse subjects such as the Spanish Civil War and the 1984 Bhopal Union Carbide disaster. He splits his time between India and the Pacific Northwest.
General admission tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, available at phtww.org or the box office at 509-529-6500.
Seating for each screening is capped at 100 patrons, as allowed under Phases 2 and 3 of Washington’s Safe Start Plan. Additional precautions including required mask use and physical distancing between households will be observed.