03.XII.1924 von Deinen Eltern

For my final major project I looked at my own family and their relationship with our Jewish Heritage. The project (03.XII.1924 von Deinen Eltern) is an uncompromising excavation of my family’s history, in familiar and unfamiliar spaces, made through dialogues, performances (sittings) and ‘encounters’ with documents and objects, uncovering the complexities of remembering and forgetting. 
 
While the degree show was on I received an email from Grace Robertson who had visited the degree show on that day: 
 
“Among so much that was well done your work stood out in a class of its own. You wept in your own defining image, but sentimentality was absent when it would have been all to easy to fall into that trap and the work was far more powerful as a result. But above all, those memories were held together by the excellence of your photography. Every interior image and its history gave me a deepened experience through your handling of light and shadow; and the hands images came across with complete authority.
I do hope you intend to go on using such empathy and talent on people.” 
 
As part of my research I retraced family steps and returned to addresses in Vienna that we discovered in family documents. Here I met with landlords and current occupiers and have begun an ongoing dialogue. In September I returned to Vienna to inaugurate a remembrance stone to the family we lost in the Holocaust. 
 

I understood when I started the process of unpicking a family history that has the trauma of displacement and loss of life, that I was entering un-discussed and unknown territory. There was a real dilemma about what to reveal and what to keep from public view especially as my great grandmother rarely expressed any desire to discuss the war. I discovered hidden stories, kept for a lifetime, and answers to questions only raised a multitude more. It is one thing to know a history and another to feel it. 

So far I have made a series of documents that are testament to a life; to the attempt to remake a life after the destruction of everything once known and believed in. I emerge from this. I am the first generation of my family to have been able to engage with following a trail of documentation and discoveries.

I hope that what I have been able to create is lasting. I started on a visual journey creating a narrative from stories passed down the family; found that I wanted to document my family’s physical environment and who lived there. I then looked back into archival material and then followed a trail of documentation back to Vienna where my family originated from before the war. What I have ended up with includes written experience, observation, and reflection. 

Please note that this is a small selection of images from a much wider body of work.

 

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