2001 - 2002 Photographic Series and Film: Traces. Solo exhibitions: Wiener Library (London, United Kingdom 2003) Maison Heinrich Heine (Paris, France 2003), Schlatterhaus Interfaith Centre, (Tübingen Germany 2003), KZ Gedenkstätte/Memorial Centre and Museum (Ulm, Germany 2002) and film screening at Brighton Jewish Film Festival (UK 2002)
My research base focuses on the photographic archive, yet the collection of photographs, objects and artefacts has a clear intent and purpose. Through enacting historical reclamation of voices that have been silenced, I revision the past in order to create a lived social and cultural history. Much of my work has a connection to the Second World War and its aftermath.
My research process commences with the discovery of a marginalized historical event. I then assemble a larger historical context through the collection of photographs, oral histories, objects, and sonic and visual media. My next step is to travel to the place of the past event – to re-position the moment into the built environment and landscape – and to excavate the residual archaeology. At that point, she creates new mediations of the event, through re-photographing an image or documenting a location in the present. The mediations are noted and tracked against earlier interpretations.
I have published several articles on émigré artists (painter Fred Uhlman and photographer Wolf Suschitzky) and have presented papers on sites of memory and contemporary responses to the Holocaust at a number of universities including the University of London, University of Sussex (Holocaust Memorial Day Conference) and universities and institutions in France, Germany, Canada, China and Taiwan.
I am presently collaborating with Special Collections, University of Sussex, and art historian Dr Deborah Schultz, on a project that explores creative responses to the Holocaust. Ten second year Photography students from my 'Experimental Archeology: within and beyond the archive' project are responding to work from the Arnold Daghani collection, held within Special Collections at Sussex. They are using photography to explore the work and develop their own responses.
The images from the photographic series Traces (2001) allude to spaces of reflection within ourselves. They are 'containers of memory'. Traces is based on two family photographs that I found in a suitcase belonging to my great uncle Hugo who was Jewish. While Hugo managed to escape to the UK from Austria most of his family perished in the Holocaust.
... no more than a breath between there and not there. (Paul Celan, Poems of Paul Celan, 1968).
In 1998 I moved into my great aunt's house in Southern England. In the attic, I discovered a leather suitcase, which had belonged to my great aunt’s Jewish husband, Hugo Hecker. In the summer of 1939 this suitcase witnessed Hugo’s escape from Nazi persecution. Most of Hugo’s family stayed behind in Eastern Europe where they perished in the Shoah. In the house, I also found two small photographs of Hugo’s family: these now constitute their last visual trace. The photographs along with Hugo's suitcase and its contents formed the starting point of the project, which focused on the search for traces. In his lifetime, Hugo, traumatised by the war, had remained silent about the loss of his family. I began working on the project to break through this silence and to find out how the memory of a family could have been erased from history.
The 'Traces' series consists of forty images in three parts:
In 2002 I collaborated with filmmaker Nerea Martinez de Lecea to produce a short film version of Traces. This film premiered at the Brighton Jewish Film Festival in October 2002 and has been shown in all subsequent exhibition venues. The project has been exhibited widely (nationally and internationally) and I have been frequently invited to give key lectures on the work.
Images/articles published in Frankfurter Rundschau, Deutschland Danach, Educational Supplement to commemorate the 60th anniversary for the end of WWII, May 2005 1-11. (In German).
Further reviews and articles in various German, French and British newspapers including the Jewish Chronicle (July 2003, p18 UK), the Schwäbisches Tagblatt (Tübingen 18/3/03 and 19/03/03 and 2/4/03 Germany), the Goethe Institut newsletter (June 2003 UK), the London Independent Photography Magazine (feature article and cover image Number 15 Winter 2003/4), Citescope (May 2003 Number 41, pp36-37 Paris), Freie-radios.net (Independent German radio station April 2003), Südwest Presse (16/10/02 Germany); Schwäbische Zeitung (2 October 2002/229 p129 Germany); the British Journal of Photography (09/07/03 UK), Wiener Library News (April 2003 Number 42).
"These images make visible two opposing and yet interdependent issues: on the one hand they show the effort to create a personal memory of this family’s history through remaining traces which still exist in the form of a few objects as well as in specific places. From the two small surviving photographs we travel to Krakow and Auschwitz, these are concrete traces, but they leave a lot of room for the imagination. On the other hand, the images indicate the fragmentary nature of these traces, and make visible the fundamental void left by the Shoah. They also indicate the limits of existing traces: the places evoked in the images taken in Poland bear witness to the absence of people who were lost in the Shoah as much as they speak about their former lives there."
(Prof Helene Roussel, from the University ST Denis, Paris, on Traces 2003 during her presentation at the Maison Heinrich Heine)