Shoah Film Collection – the start

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The European Parliament is honouring Shoah Film Collection in Riga as an important initiative by taking Patronage. So the presentation of Shoah film Collection is standing under the Patronage of the European Parliament.


This magnificent message reached us today, underlining the European relevance of A Virtual Memorial Riga 2012 which was already given through its realisation in the context of the A-Team.

From today on, one of the daily tasks on this blog will be, presenting “SFC – Shoah Film Collection” to the reader so that at the last day the entire collection of currently 43 videos will be through.

SFC – Shoah Film Collection was launched on a symbolical date, 27 January 2010, the 65th return of the Liberation of Auschwitz (International Holocaust Memorial Day) as an international initiative addressed to young artists generations as an encouragement to deal with Shoah and related topics, like the collective trauma caused by totalitarianism, by using new technologies and contemporary approaches in art in order to keep vivid the memory through new ways of commemoration. Each year on 27 January, SFC is releasing in Internet a new open call for submissions for the coming year, so also earlier this year.

Since SFC – Shoah Film Collection is including also a video of mine released on the same day of its launch on 27 January and it was the first film in the collection, at all, I would like to start with it, to be followed by two additional afterwards.

My work, entitled: “Memory Game” (7:40) , refers to how visitors use and experience memorial sites. While young people experience visiting Auschwitz like a kind of Disneyland, the public memorial for the Murdered Jews in Europe located in Berlin became soon after its launch very popular as a playground for its visitors. I do honestly not think, that preserving Auschwitz as a memorial site for future generations was thought to be an entertainment park, but in a certain way it degenerated to a kind of funfair through the commercialization of the Holocaust. Probably it was the intension of the creator of the memorial in Berlin to attract the visitors the way it does. In any case, the memorial in the heart of Berlin is counting an incredibly number of visitors, and each individual is playing his own memory game.

Review “Memory Game”

As a condition and at the beginning of the film, the viewer reads a story in a few words as an introduction:

Five friends meet each other once a year at another place on the globe for one day and play their memory game. In 2010, they meet in Berlin, a place where countless strings of memory come together at the focus of one place which is standing for the more than 6 million of murdered Jews, the Memorial for The Murdered Jews in Europe.

While the video actually is not telling a story, playing the “memory game” becomes for the protagonists, which might be any visitor, a confrontation with imaginations and associations the memorial itself is stimulating, whether it is stimulating the memory of the Holocaust, at all, it remains an open question.

Like the 1st presented video, the 2nd one by Alicia Felberbaum (UK) , entitled “Undressing Room”, 2009, 4:30, was especially created for SFC – Shoah Film Collection.

Review “Undressing Room”

These are the artists comments: I was most interested in replying to SFC call for proposals to reflect on the topic of SHOAH, and by doing so I was presented with the paradox inherent in any attempt to represent this particular subject. On the one hand it’s been argued that the Holocaust is fundamentally unrepresentable. On the other hand, as an artist I wanted to explore and try to respond to the question: “How an event that defies representation can be remembered to ensuring that such atrocities are never repeated?”

About “undressing room”

People arriving to the camps were told to undress in preparation for showering. They left their personal effects and queue in the undressing room before entering the rooms with signs saying “baths” and “sauna”. Its furnishings were meant to simulate a shower room. To avoid panic, they were given a small piece of soap and a towel and were told to remember where they had put their belongings. The shower room was a large room with rows of exposed water pipes and sprinkler-type showerheads on the ceiling. The water was hot, the pellets had to be heated before they release the poison; the heat of the bodies caused the gas to work faster.

In “undressing room” I’ve used a combination of animated stills and documentary open source archive material from the camps filmed in the immediate aftermath of World War II. I’ve chosen this form of representation, (in between animation and documentary), to approach the paradox, and to ascribe meaning to that which explodes the structure of meaning itself. Working in between layers of reality, I strived for a more nuanced and/or poetic demonstration of the events, experience and identity, to build into the work associations connected with the subject. The ambiguous nature of the work is an attempt for the audience to bring its own interpretation and experience to it.

The footage of the 3rd video by Anders Weberg (Sweden), entited: “Mamo”, 2008, 2:30, was taken by the mobile phone, since filming without authorization is prohibited in Auschwitz. Like the artist says in his short film description:  senses and memories of motherhood evoked by visiting Birkenau (Auschwitz II) in Poland July 2008.

Review “Mamo”

To be continued tomorrow!!

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