Thursday, 19 May 2016

Transart Institute Proposal

Transart Institute Proposal

Ira Hoffecker

In my work so far, I have been investigating the different identities cities, like Berlin, take on over a period of time. I am interested in how different societies transform and change city spaces over the course of the centuries. My work examines the relationships between people and cities by responding to constant change, reconstruction and restoration in the urban landscape. Places are overlaid with multiple histories, and in my previous painting work, layers of paint have covered and obscured, as a metaphor for forgetting and suppressing, but each coat of paint was also informed by the previous layer.

For my first project at Transart Institute I would like to explore a completely new medium for me: sound.

Still working with the same theme, identity, I would like to compare events from the past and juxtapose those to current events: the darkest element of the German past was the time of the Nazi regime, during which horrible crimes were committed, during which the attempt to wipe out the entire European Jewry was almost accomplished. 

I was looking for someone who had survived the Holocaust, and had the pleasure to meet Dr. Peter Gary in December 2015. He was born in 1924 in Poland and was arrested by Nazis in 1941 together with his mother, who was shot when she tried to protect him. Gary survived the Warsaw Getto, was then sent to Majdanek, then Dachau and, finally, Bergen-Belsen. At the age of 21, he was liberated from concentration camp in April 1945 and survived the Shoah.

From my conversation with Dr. Peter Gary, I have about 2 hours of recorded material. During the next months I would like to edit this interview to gain about 10 min in which he talks about his experience at the concentration camp.

I would like to juxtapose this recording of Gary’s experience of living under the atrocities of the Nazis and juxtapose this piece to a recording of voices of right wing extremists who are currently on the streets of Dresden and Leipzig, every Monday evening, demonstrating against the politics of the German government, demonstrating against accepting any refugees from Syria or other countries.

In addition to these two sound loops, I would like to create three further sound loops. One with the voices of the Nazis at the famous Wannsee Conference where, in 1942, the ‘Endloesung’, the ‘Final Solution of the Jewish Question’ had been discussed by senior officials of Nazi Germany.

In a forth sound loop I would like to include the voice of Hitler, his famous ‘Prophecy’ in which he talks about the extinction of the Jewish race.

For the fifth sound loop I would like to record my own voice reading Paul Celan’s famous poem ‘The Death Fugue”. Paul Celan, born in 1920 in Romania, was one of the major German-language poets after the Second World War who had survived the Holocaust.

My sound piece with 5 different sound loops could be presented with 5 head phones hanging from the ceiling. For each loop I could do an extensive write-up to explain the background and the content of each loop.

By presenting these 5 loops together I am hoping to remind the listener of the past, to explain the propaganda of the Nazis and their aggression and incitement to extinct the Jewish people and I want to juxtapose the consequence of this aggression to current propaganda against people who would need our help and support.

I can imagine and would be interested in writing my thesis for Transart Institute about this piece and this theme.

I would like to continue to paint as well. I would like painting to be my main medium, however, for my MFA am thinking of an installation with all kinds of work, including several conceptual art pieces such as the sound piece and my paintings in one room that talk about German identity after the Second World War. An artist I did some research on is Tatiana Trouve and I saw her work in Berlin in March 2016. Her installation inspired me to work with several mediums, namely sound, painting, photography and sculpture for my MFA installation. All pieces will talk about identity.

My mentors during my residency at Takt Berlin (Jan to March 2016) have all recommended that I start to work on very big canvases. I need to create a body of work that is coherent. 4 to 6 big paintings that are all the same size, talk about the same subject matter and are supposed to be hung together in one room. I would still talk about historic layers and different identities over time, however, abstract my paintings more. By overlaying lines and shapes I still talk about layers. For my current solo exhibition at the Jewish Zack Gallery in Vancouver, I had especially created a body of work that talks about Berlin’s former Jewish quarters, the Scheunenviertel and Spandauer Vorstadt.

For my MFA with Transart Institute I would like to focus on the story and different historic layers of Camp Moschendorf. I would like to take elements out of the maps I have and create 4 to 6 big canvasses within this year to come.

There are two more conceptual art pieces I would like to discuss in more detail and in person in Berlin. I had done an interview with an artist from Syria who had come to Berlin in the fall of 2015. I am thinking of creating a video piece with this material but would like to discuss this piece and a couple of other ideas in person in Berlin.

- Biro, Matthew : Anselm Kiefer, Phaidon Press Limited, London, ISBN 978 07148 61432, March 2013
- Dr. Norbert Kampe: The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of the European Jews, House of the Wannsee Conference, Berlin, ISBN 978-3-9808517-8-7
- Huyssen, Andreas : Twilight Memories, Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia, Published in Great Britain by Routledge, 1995, ISBN HB 0415 909341 1,
- Peterson, Abby: Wounds That Never Heal: On Anselm Kiefer and the Moral Innocence of the West German Student Movements and the West German New Left, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Cultural Sociology, Academic Journal, September 2012, ISSN: 1749-9755
-Saltzman, Lisa: Anselm Kiefer and Art after Auschwitz; Cambridge University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-521-630-33-9

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