The countdown continues. One day is left, until tomorrow “A Virtual Memorial Riga 201`2 will be opened. As announced yesterday, Jay Needham, Ben Neufeld and Shelley Jordon from USA arrived in time and we had together a dinner in a restaurant not far from the hotel. I met Jay already earlier some years ago, when we were collaborating in another project in Valencia, Ben and Shelley, I met for the first time, and it is always very nice to meet persons physically after a long time of merely virtual contacts. Today, three further artists are arriving, about noon Felice Hapetzeder from Sweden and the two Israeli artists Doron Polak and Eitan Vitkon in the early afternoon. At 4.pm these Israeli artists, Dzintars from NOASS and my person, the director of artvideoKOELN and artist of A-TEAM are invited for a home reception at the apartment of the Cultural Attache of the Israeli Embassy. In the evening, the artists who arrived already, there will be 6, the last two coming tomorrow, Doris Neidl (Austria) and Cristiano Berti (Italy) completing the artists team, meet each other in the hotel lobby for a meeting somewhere out of the hotel.
Questions Behind SFC (cont)
In order to prepare this memorial project I visit Poland, and especially Lublin many times, and each time, once I stayed even two weeks, I had my guest room on the area of the concentration camp just a few meters from a huge monument housing the ashes of 500 000 murdered victims. These nights being imprisoned, since I was really imprisoned. The State Majdanek museum was closing at 6 p.m. in the evening and opening at 9.am in the morning and the time in between, there was no other chance than staying in the guest room. These nights in Majdanek, so close to the monument containing the ashes of hundred thousands of murdered victims, were unbelievable silent, absolute silence, no sound, no bird was singing, no cicada was chirping. A silence causing tremendous spiritual perceptions, sometimes I felt the need to leave the room and entered an unknown spiritual world like on an alien planet. Where was I? Thousands of questions were raving through my mind. On one hand, these nights and days in Majdanek gave me the final inspiration, on the other they were causing weeks after I returned from the last visit a creeping depression which was leading me very close to death during the following months.
On 27 January 1995, the memorial project was launched as an exhibition installation, entitled:” 1000 Years, 50 Years and Still so Terribly Young”. 1000 years were referring to Hitler’s Third Reich lasting thousand years, 50 years was referring to 50th return of the end of World War II, and “still so terribly young” was referring to the Neo-Nazi manifestations taking place at that time. Later, the expanding project context was renamed into “A Living Memorial Spaces of Art – Memorial Project against the Forgetting, Racism, Xenophobia and anti-Semitism – see also link
Shortly after the launch, Ignatz Bubis, the late president of the Central Jewish Council of Germany, had taken patronage and catapulted this project to public attention, causing not only positive, but also negative results, since I was threatened by anonymous phone calls and letters and – generally, it was a dangerous time, since too often personalities of public relevance, like the late mayor of Vienna Helmut Zilk, received letter bombs were seriously injured or even died. For the coming three years I was in permanent fear one day I would also receive such a bomb, too often were strange looking parcels in my mailbox. Even if none of these parcels was containing a bonb, but deep inside I had the confident feeling someday something horrible would happen.
Between it’s inauguration in January 1995, until 1999 this nomadic memorial had been exhibited in total 43 times, after Cologne firstly at 10 Polish museums Majdanek/Lublin, Bialystok, Stutthof, Siedlce, Krakow, Auschwitz, Katowice, Cestochowa and Zgorzelec, Czech Republic _ Theresienstadt and Germany – Dresden, Leipzig, Halle, Magdeburg, Schwerin, Hamburg, Cologne, Duesseldorf, Berlin, Dachau and many more, each month the memorial project, whose concept was slowly expanding via the addition of new installation and exhibition components, was presented at another place.
In September 1998, one hour before the opening of the installation at the Wittlich Synagogue was supposed to take place, however the horrible and also unimaginable happened, when the installation was destroyed by Neo-Nazis in an act of mad vandalism. It is hardly to describe what was happening to me experiencing such a barbarism more than 50 years after World War II, even if I was not directly physically harmed the shock initiated a process which I describe as dying, I started to die slowly and a couple of weeks later at the end of 1998, I was dead and fell into a many months lasting coma.
To be continued.
SFC – The Presentation (cont)
Today, I would like to feature the next series of individual videos.
Today, I would like to feature the next series of individual videos by starting with “Mortale”, 2009, 06mins 45secs by Paolo Bonfiglio (Italy).
More than 10.000 handmade drawing form the basis of the exceptional animated film. A selection of drawings is representing a part of the exhibition “How Memory Survives” installed at the lower gallery at the Floating Art Gallery. The film tell a strange story of a man, a dog and a crow lost in a snowscape. A story about survivors.
2. The second video, entitled: I love you so much I could kill for you, 2009, 3:20 by Boris Scribar (Serbia) is also created especially for Shoah Film Collection. On first sight, the viewer does not immediately check how the film presenting the artist aggressively shouting out loudly reciting the Bible is related to Shoah, but then he slowly understands that the reciting person is accusing GOD and those who practice violence in the name of the love for GOD. GOD is a symbol or metaphor for belief and ideology. In this way he is also asking GOD where he had been and let the Holocaust happen. The video is spoken in Serbian language, English subtitled.
3. The next video, entitled: The Colossus by the Sea (10:00), 2003 by Jens Salander and Mikael Stroemberg (Sweden) is documenting the former NAZI recreation resort PRORA on the island of Ruegen/Baltic Sea and the difficulties how to deal properly with this “heavy” heritage. PRORA is a typical example for the mad ideas of an insane ideology. The architectural complex was never finalized by the Nazi and was therefore also not used as a holiday resort.
4. Sean Burn’s video, entitled: Turn the book around, 1′42”, 2009 – wants to give the silent a voice – too many victims, and not just historically – go silent no longer, the book of your lives unread, instead turn the book around. This film, like the rest of my work is about giving voice, allowing the silent/silenced to speak and giving voice to these these creative alternatives, these strategies for survival.
5. “From the Middle to the Start”, 2009, 5:00 is a video piece (by Yochai Avrahami and Karin Eliyahu) filmed at Zosha’s House who is a holocaust survivor from Poland. During the war she was adopted by a Polish family where she was disguised as a Polish orphan. Since her arrival to Israel, Zosha has been creating dalls/mannequins which relate to general Jewish motifs and the holocaust in particular. During the film Karin is seen talking to Zosha about her relationship with her adopting mother, about confronting a German soldier and the return of her biological mother at the end of the war. The conversation takes place in Zosha’s lounge amongst the presence of the life size mannequins. The film has a grotesque feel: agitated shots of the camera, Karin chatting to Zosha while nursing her baby and Zosha’s dolls expressive and surrealistic, hovering around as scarecrows in a bourgeois lounge. The work relates to the specific area of history passed on by witnesses and holocaust survivors, who were children during the war, a personal account which can be vivid and at times a distorted narrative.
to be continued.