Investigation of German Identity after the Second World
War by Contemporary Artists Christian Boltanski,
Shimon Attie, and Susan Hiller
Transart Institute/ Plymouth University
Course: Master of Fine Arts
Name: Ira Susann Hoffecker-Sattler
Student Number: 16053163
Submission: May 1st, 2017
Word Count: 5418 (including captions of images)
Student Declaration 3
1. Introduction 4
2. Christian Boltanski 6
3. Shimon Attie 9
4. Susan Hiller 12
5. Conclusion 16
In submitting this paper for assessment, I confirm that it is my own work.
Name: Ira Susann Hoffecker-Sattler
Germany and its capital Berlin have experienced many different governments and regimes during the past 150 years. There is no other city that has seen so many different identities within this short timeframe. The evolution of this city is inextricably linked with the history of the German people.
The capitulation of Germany in May 1945 marked the end of the Second World War (WWII) in Europe. Germans had to accept responsibility for the actions of the Hitler regime which had brought devastation and death across Europe. Horrendous crimes had been committed and the guilt of the Holocaust needed to be accepted as a collective guilt that would never go away. Germans were in shock. Their country had been destroyed as a consequence of people following Hitler’s dictatorship. Also, Germany was now divided into two parts for the foreseeable future: West Germany, influenced by the free-market US American ideology, and East Germany, dominated by the communist Soviet Union.
After the war Berlin became divided into East Berlin, the capital of East Germany, and West Berlin, a West German exclave surrounded by the Berlin Wall from 1961–89. The dividing wall fell on November 9th, 1989 and Germany and the two city halves were reunified in 1990. Berlin was rebuilt as one city that belongs together, yet undergoes a constant transformation.
Over the years, I became extremely interested in investigating the different identities of Germany and Berlin. Childhood memories of the years of the ‘leaden blanket’ over Germany’s recent past had a pivotal impact on me. The question about what makes our German identity through history and heritage is a vital part of my life and has brought this theme into my work.
I have investigated those different historic layers of Berlin in my art practice. I have studied Berlin’s history, the social and political contexts, and the Zeitgeist of those relevant times and Berlin’s changing architecture. By looking at historic and current maps of the city, can one see how dramatically Berlin has been transformed several times over the past 150 years.
In preparation for this MFA paper, I have studied a selection of contemporary artists who have investigated Germany’s Post-Nazi and Post-WWII identity after the fall of the wall in November 1989. I am especially interested in how non-German contemporary artists discuss Germany’s collective memory. I will examine how these artists have explored Germany’s past and how they have responded to the urban landscape. How do these artists work to keep Germany’s collective memory alive? How do they address the absence and the loss and how do they work against forgetting but towards remembering?
For this paper, I have chosen to write about the following contemporary artists and these specific pieces:
- Christian Boltanski’s site-specific and permanent installation The Missing House in Berlin from 1990,
- Shimon Attie’s site specific photo installation The Writing on the Wall also in Berlin’s Scheunenviertel, from 1991,
- Susan Hiller’s J-Street Project, a film and a photo series from all over Germany from 2002 to 2005.
2. The Missing House by Christian Boltanski
The memorial Das fehlende Haus, (‘The Missing House’) was installed by French artist Christian Boltanski (born 1944) in 1990 in Berlin’s Scheunenviertel, the former Jewish quarter of Berlin. Before the Nazis came to power, mainly Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe lived in this area. Close by there is also the memorial Der verlassene Raum, (‘The Room that was left’) by Karl Biedermann and the former Jewish Cemetery which was destroyed by the Gestapo in 1943.
The Missing House is a site-specific installation which was produced for the city of Berlin following an exhibition Die Endlichkeit der Freiheit (‘The Finiteness of Liberty’, September and October 1990), which brought together various artists who were invited to work on the site of their choice, to the east or the west of the dismantled wall. A gap in a line of houses on the Grosse Hamburger Strasse, in the former eastern part of the city, was the ideal site for Boltanski’s project. On February 3rd, 1945, a bombardment damaged the building and it burnt down. Its central part, 15B, was never rebuilt. Still today there is a free space, a gap between houses no. 15a and 15c, which were spared from the bombardment.
Christian Boltanski, at that time guest professor at the Hochschule der Kuenste in Berlin, began his research in city archives with his students in 1990, shortly after the wall had come down in November 1989. This led to interviews with witnesses to unearth traces of those who had lived in this place, an enigmatic void in the urban fabric. Deportation and emigration had forced the former Jewish inhabitants to leave their flats. Documents relating to the pre-war tenants cited there were approximately twenty-five Jewish inhabitants who were later killed by the Nazis. The intervention of the artist consisted in installing a series of twelfe black and white plaques, 120 x 60 cm. Boltanski placed them on the blind walls of the adjacent houses A and C, in the exact height of actual floors where those people had lived. Information, stating the name, profession and the years of residency, was printed on the white metal plaques, reminiscent of obituaries in German newspapers.
A second component of the work was installed in the former West Berlin. On the grounds of the destroyed former Berliner Gewerbe Museum, were placed several vitrines with various forms of archival documentation, researched by Boltanski’s art students. These artifacts related to the two waves of inhabitants of the building 15b in Grosse Hamburger Strasse. At the time of the 1945 bombardment, there were no more Jewish inhabitants in the building. They had been evicted, displaced, deported and most likely killed. During allied bombings, the inhabitants were mostly Germans, who had replaced the now-vanished Jewish tenants.
The Missing House, image of a part of the installation in Grosse Hamburger Strasse
Critics and celebrants of Boltanski have often ‘characterized his work as one of contradiction.’ In an interview with art historian Tamar Garb, Boltanski states: ‘A good work of art can never be read in one way. My work is full of contradictions. An artwork is open – it is the spectators looking at the work who make the piece, using their own background.’
Boltanski explained, when politicians talk about the war they talk about numbers, for example, 3000 have died. ‘It is not a number, it is rather 1+1+1+1+1 etc, everyone with their own individual circumstances of life and their own wishes and needs. Deaths must be counted in ones.’ This crowd of people consisted of individuals. Only when one looks at the personal life and story of each individual victim of the war, the incredible magnitude of what happened seems to be more understandable.
Boltanski, whose father was Jewish, is noted for his installations associated with the Shoah, composed of cropped photographs of anonymous people.
In many of his works, Boltanski refers to his own personage. Using various media, he often tells his life stories, both actual and reinvented. What is unusual in his work is that he freely takes on new roles and discards of old identities, constantly changing the stories of his own life, creating an individual mythology. Not surprisingly Boltanski mentions German artist Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) as one of his major influences. Beuys also created a mythological story around his own life. He, however, followed through with the same story throughout his life. For their propaganda, the Nazis had appropriated Germanic mythology. Beuys, with his story, was drawing a strong parallel to this appropriation.
Photo of the second part of the installation, the vitrines
Christian Boltanski’s public and permanent memorial draws the attention of the viewer to the fact that something is missing. Unlike other memorials in Berlin, such as Gunter Demnig’s Stolpersteine, Karl Biedermann’s Der verlassene Raum, or the Holocaust Memorial, where the memorial consists of one or various artefacts that remind of the past, Boltanski draws our attention to the void.
From millions of victims of the war Christian Boltanski selects those people who lived in this house and gives them back their names and identity. He takes them out of the anonymity of a statistic and leaves it to the viewer to reactivate the stories of the former inhabitants.
3. The Writing on the Wall by Shimon Attie
As well as The Missing House, Shimon Attie’s site specific project Die Schrift an der Wand (‘The Writing on the Wall’) was also installed in Berlin’s former Jewish quarter, the Scheunenviertel in 1991. Jewish American artist Attie (born 1957) used photos of the 1920s and 1930s of the former Jewish inhabitants of this area and slide projected portions of those images onto the same buildings where the photos were originally taken 60-70 years earlier. The projections were a part of a collection of six moving photography and public art projects from different European cities called Sites Unseen.
Sites Unseen was a series of art projects done in Europe between 1991 and 1996. Attie used a variety of media, besides the on-location slide projecting Writing on the Wall installation. Projects included underwater light boxes in a Copenhagen canal, Trains I and Trains II, where he projected photographs of Hamburg’s and Dresden’s former Jewish citizens onto the city’s central railway station, a series of site-specific public installations in Krakow and Cologne and The Neighbors Next Door installation in Amsterdam from 1995.
‘The Writing on the Wall’, Berlin, 1991-1992, source Shimonattie.net
With his The Writing on the Wall, Attie created a visible layering of images of the past onto the present by projecting slides of old photographs of life before the Holocaust on the sites where those Jews had actually lived and from where they had been removed by the Nazis. This installation consisted only of traces of light, showing a ghostly appearance of people who once lived there. There was no other physicality to the piece but ‘transient shadows projected on architecture’  and exist now only as photographs.
This installation of 26 different images at different locations in the Scheunenviertel, in former East Berlin, happened shortly after the wall had come down in November 1989. During the German Democratic Republic (GDR) government, East Berlin was subject to minimal economic growth and development and many of the houses still looked like they were left after WWII. Also, due to the extensive bombing of Berlin at the end of the war, very few of the buildings that were built before the war were still intact. To realize the project, Attie sometimes needed to respond to the Scheunenviertel as it existed in 1990. ‘The Writing on the Wall is a simulation of Jewish life as it once existed in the Scheunenviertel, but not a literal reconstruction’.
‘The Writing on the Wall’, Berlin, 1991-1992, source Shimonattie.net
In 1925, 173,000 Jewish inhabitants were registered in Berlin, 4 percent of the city’s population, and one third of all Jews of Germany. 55,000 of them became victims of the Shoah. On February 27th, 1943, 10,000 Jewish inhabitants of Berlin were arrested and on June 16th, 1943, Berlin was declared ‘Judenrein’ (‘clean of Jews’). Approximately 1,500 Jews managed to survive in Berlin, either in hiding or through a marriage with a non-Jewish person.
‘All the while I continued to make forays through the city, seeking out traces of a former Jewish presence.’ The storefronts in the Scheunenviertel bore signs in Hebrew and Yiddish. The Jewish culture was highly visible, reflected in the pre-war photographs taken in this quarter. These images became the basis for Attie’s project.
‘The Writing on the Wall’, Berlin, 1991-1992, source Shimonattie.net
In his book The Holocaust and Problems of Historical Representation author Robert Brown writes that these sites, those places of memory, serve to ‘preserve the liveliness, ever presentness, and socially bound uniqueness of personal memories while at the same time allowing them to become, in a special way, part of history.’
Attie’s research for The Writing on the Wall created a contemporary historical record of the district. As Andreas Huyssen wrote: ‘After all, the act of remembering is always in and of the present, while its referent is of the past and thus absent. Inevitably, every act of memory carries with it a dimension of betrayal, forgetting and absence.’ Not only were millions of people killed during this war, many millions were bereft of their dreams and hopes for the future. While after the war Germans tried to forget and suppress the painful memory of terrible atrocities that had happened during the time of the Nazi regime, Germans are now discussing how collective memory can be preserved and created. Current generations have no first-hand memory. They must create a collective memory through historic documentation.
4. J-Street-Project by Susan Hiller
J-Street Project (2002-2005) by Susan Hiller (born 1940) consists of a photographic installation, photos compiled in a 644-page book, and a 67-minute video that refers to the former existence of Jewish life in Germany, shot in over 300 locations throughout Germany.
The photos of J-Street Project were shown in an ‘Index’ installation of all 303 streets in Germany that are still named indicating Jewish residency. The video contains a multitude of Holocaust references, despite the ordinariness of the streets and everyday life. Hiller photographed and filmed these 303 signs found in ‘tiny hamlets, famous cities, and boring suburbs’.
Exhibition installation ‘J-Street-Project’ at the Model, Sligo in Ireland, 2014
Like her project Dedicated to the Unknown Artists (from 1972-76), Susan Hiller is interested in conceptually accumulating a mass. She creates projects that moves between the heaviness of the subject matter and the emptiness of something that does not exist anymore. The American, London-based artist was an anthropologist before she became an artist. Her penchant for cataloguing is apparent in her work.
Hiller’s father’s family were German Jews who immigrated to the United States in 1848. She explained that the J-Street-Project ‘did not start as an idea, but with an experience’. Hiller travelled to Berlin in 2002 on fellowship as a guest of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange service). She wandered around the city centre when she saw a sign that said ‘Judenstrasse’ – Jew Street. It evoked strong memories and histories. ‘The sign was ambiguous and my reaction was ambivalent. Looking at the street sign, it seemed to me there was a strange ambiguity in retaining or restoring the name of a street commemorating people who had been exterminated within living memory.’ The street signage might have been retained as a commemoration, but it implied both in its language and its existence a history of racism, segregation and violence.
Image from J-Street-Project
The artist said that when she began research on all streets in Germany with the name Jude (Jew), she was not intending to do historical work to locate where the Jewish community had lived before WWII or locate former ghettos. She wanted to see what existed in the present day, unintentional memorials which exist through anonymous bureaucratic decisions.
With the help of maps of every single town and region, Hiller found 303 street signs all over Germany that incorporate the word ‘Jude’ (Jew). She approached the Jewish Museum in Berlin to confirm that these street signs were not installed as a respectful commemoration after the war. If tribute was intended, streets would be given names like Anne-Frank-Strasse or Chaim Weitzmanstrasse, but not Judenstrasse (Jew Street), which is racist. The ‘perfunctory formulation of the titles renders them unavoidably dismissive.’ Even in death the former namesakes of the signs remain segregated and dishonoured by an impersonal generic label.
J-Street Project, which took three years to complete, refers to the Jewish presence in Germany. The Jewish community was part of Germany before the Nazis came to power and before Germans saw themselves as a superior race that segregated and exterminated the Jewish members of their society. Hiller talks about that palpable absence that still exists today. ‘The Germans tore their own heart out when they tried to exterminate their Jewish population, because Jews were everywhere and the Germans killed an important part of themselves’.
Hiller juxtaposes current everyday life in Germany to the horror of the Holocaust. The 67-minute film is a collection of static camera shots recording daily life around the signs in city centres, villages, suburban and rural settings. They are shot in different seasons and different times of the day.
The soundtrack in the film records traffic noise, church bells and other incidental sounds and music that occurred on location. Among others, one hears a musical box playing a popular old song Das ist die Berliner Luft (‘That’s the air of Berlin’) from 1890. Several consecutive shots of different places are accompanied by a carillon. The melody played is that of an old revolutionary song called Die Gedanken sind frei (‘The thinking is free’) from 1780 which later had been forbidden by the Nazis. Hiller employs the sound in a further attempt to evoke the absent communities.
One of the streets that Hiller encountered first is Berlin’s ‘Juedenstrasse’, renamed ‘Kinkelstrasse’ by the Nazis after the racial theorist Gottfried Kinkel in 1938. This street was eventually given back its original name in 2002, after decades of discussion. The two names are mounted above one another, with ‘Kinkelstrasse’ struck through in red.
Hiller’s J-Street Project aspires ‘to provide a space to reflect not only on one unique, incurable, traumatic absence, but also on more recent attempts to destroy minority cultures and erase their presence.’
Because of Hiller’s neutral seriality approach, the viewer is reminded of the many other commemorative projects similarly afflicted by archive fever. Photo installations of Christian Boltanski come to mind.
The abbreviation of Jew or Jewish to J is ambivalent. It could be a working title, an abbreviation for a project. Hiller’s title J-Street-Project creates an immediate connotation of the Nazis use of J as an abbreviation of Jewish. The Nazis stamped the letter J in red ink on the identity cards of all Jewish citizens.
‘Juedenstrasse’, former ‘Kinkelstrasse’ in Berlin, source: Jewish Museum Berlin
Hiller has often described her work as ‘talking about ghosts’. The J-Street Project visits streets and places which have become ghosts that haunt the present. The Jewish communities were destroyed, many Jewish people all over Europe were killed but the names and other traces, memories remain.
Various contemporary artists have investigated Germany’s post-Holocaust identity. I chose to discuss the work of Boltanski, Hiller, and Attie because they all use diverse ways to think about this aspect of the German past and leave me with very different aesthetic experiences.
All three projects by these artists instill unique perceptions and feelings. I chose Boltanski, Attie and Hiller because they have commonality with my work regarding the context and subject matter.
Their works represent important elements in the ongoing German question of how to come to terms with our Holocaust impacted heritage. Their works and mine are all discourses about memory. Our work reflects and deliberates ways to keep German collective memory alive.
One can download and see Hiller’s film (https://youtu.be/OCXMI5vROys) and study the photos in both Hiller’s and Attie’s books. Boltanski’s The Missing House is the only project that was installed permanently in Berlin.
I read Hiller’s J-Street Project as a memory of the guilt of the German people and I interpret Attie’s Writing on the Wall as a reactivation of the memory of Jewish life before the Nazi’s came to power. Boltanski’s project has often been described as controversial by critics, since there were Germans killed when this house was destroyed at the end of WWII. I, however, embrace the The Missing House as a place of mourning, an installation that stands for the unspeakable pain caused through war and destruction.
Ira Hoffecker, Scheunenviertel, 16 x 20 inches, Acrylic and plexiglass on birch panel, 2016
Boltanski discusses the void in The Missing House. The void has been a fascination of many in art history and in critical theory analyses. Scientists and philosophers have discussed nothingness and its meaning over the centuries. When the emptiness, the void and the nothing are being discussed in art, sublime experiences are often evoked.
Since the Shoah happened, however, the void has taken on an additional potential meaning. Boltanski’s installation is structured around absence, vacancy, loss. The gap in the building is an analogy to what has been absent in the national life of Germany for more than 70 years. The artist draws an extremely powerful parallel to the missing Jewry of Berlin, Germany and Europe. The void stands for six million Jewish people torn out of society and killed, as well as the destruction of war and the loss of 60 million lives lost altogether in WWII.
Ira Hoffecker, Forgetting, 24 x 30 inches, Acrylic, resin, cotton on birch wood panel, 2015
The Missing House is a place where I went several times to commemorate the loss of the erased Jewish community of Germany and Europe, the killing of the many other minority groups and where I can simultaneously mourn the loss that occurred on all sides of the war.
Shimon Attie, contrarily, visually simulates images of the real people who actually lived in those very places and houses in the Jewish quarter of Berlin before they were torn out of their lives in the most terrible, mass produced genocide of all times. Even though the piece conveys the artist’s impressions of the Holocaust and the missing Jewry, for me, Attie approaches the viewer in a positive and informative way, raising consciousness of how Jewish life looked like before the war, by projecting the past onto the present.
I think his images can become part of a collective memory my and following generations can create. He reminds me of the peaceful time, when the community was still intact. His project is positioned before the Nazis came to power in the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s.
Attie’s projections momentarily recreate the once flourishing Jewish community overlaid onto present sites. With his Writing on the Wall, Attie brings the actual people to life again.
In both her photos of 303 signposts documenting the past Jewish presence in Berlin and her 67-minute film of these street signs, Susan Hiller creates an overpowering association to the Holocaust. Hiller’s stockpile of images are reminders of piles of personal possessions accumulated in the death camps. The street signs she recorded are loaded with the memory of the former Jewish existence in those 303 sites.
Ira Hoffecker, Palast der Repuplik, 36x48 inches, Acrylic and resin on birch wood panel, 2015
There is a strong tension between the everyday life in today’s Germany and the continued presence and meaning of these street signs. The ambiguity of possible readings of those signs engages the viewer to actively think about the different possible interpretations. The signs could be read to remember the abysmal exterminations committed by the Nazis, or as a sign of the ignorance of the Germans, who erased their Jewish neighbors but neglected to exchange the street signs, since there are no memorial plaques that commemorate the loss.
I see Hiller’s project as a very important work about guilt and how Germans deal with that legacy today. It addresses the ongoing German problem of how to remember, commemorate adequately.
In my work, I am interested in how Germans deal with collective memory, with forgetting and suppressing the past as opposed to remembering and comprehending. I have grown up in an environment where forgetting was, and still is, strongly promoted.
In my paintings, I overlay maps from today onto maps of the Third Reich to examine the divergent identities of those places over time. In some areas of my paintings the underlying map is covered with new layers of paint, whereas in other areas I sand the surface down to the previous layers. Many of my paintings respond to Berlin’s former Scheunenviertel.
I see my process of covering as a metaphor to articulate how one can willfully forget and suppress the past. The process of revealing and sanding the surface down alludes to a process of remembering and acknowledging, reconciling historic events.
Ira Hoffecker, Camp Moschendorf, 30 by 40 inches, Acrylic and resin on birch panel
With his projection of images of the past onto the present sites, Shimon Attie inspired me to project my collection of sounds of the past that represent experiences of the Holocaust onto images of the present. For the sounds in my video, I utilized sound bites of an interview I conducted with Dr. Peter Gary, who was a survivor of the Holocaust, (1923-2016), and my own voice, reading poems by Holocaust Survivors and poets and writers Primo Levi and Paul Celan.
In the video, I project those sounds onto images of burning refugee homes in Germany today, onto right wing populists’ and extremists’ marches occurring weekly in Dresden which are demonstrations against the acceptance of war refugees from Syria. Also, I have included images of refugees on their odyssey to and through Europe. The video shows images of the destroyed city of Homs in Syria from 2016 and propounds a new genocide with the killing of minority groups during the Syrian civil war.
To correspond with Syrian conflicts, I wanted to give agency to an artist, Fareed Abd Albaki, a refugee artist from Syria. The video includes parts of our interview recorded in Berlin in 2016.
I included excerpts of Hitler’s voice from his famous ‘prophecy’ speech. Hitler openly announced that the Jewry of Europe would be destroyed in this January 1939 oration. This is important to know since most Germans after the war denied they knew what happened to Jews, where Jewish people were taken and their extermination in concentration camps.
Ira Hoffecker, Image of burning refugee home in the video Black Milk of Daybreak, 15 min, 2016
After WWII, political theorist Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) and many other writers researched the phenomenon of Germans’ denial of guilt. Acceptance of their culpability was thwarted when most Germans saw themselves as victims after the war. Many Germans had lost their houses and their belongings due to bombings or deportation from former German territories, their ‘Heimat’, their home land. Many women were raped by soldiers. Millions of innocent civilians had been killed, etc. According to Arendt, responsibility in its juridical sense, ‘guilt of specific crimes correlated responsibility, was assignable only to a relatively small number of people.’ Instead of discussing guilt in Germany after the war, the country needed to be rebuilt and a leaden blanket was put over the past. ‘Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung’, the coming to terms of Germans with their past and the discussion regarding the acceptance of guilt only started in the late 1960s.
With the video I intend to juxtapose newly arisen hate against foreigners, currently against Muslims to experiences of the Holocaust. I want to suggest how things can escalate if the people of a country do not stand up and protect each other.
In my first year proposal I had suggested that the video will be played in a room where the text of the protocol of the Wannsee Conference would be projected onto a wall and would flow down that wall with persistent continuity, over the ground, so that it flows over viewers in the room. At the Wannsee Conference, which took place on January 20th, 1942, the systematic mass produced death of the European Jewry was decided upon.
This video is a further development of my previous photo series (presented in the fall semester 2016) pertaining to 12 different genocides. I created a series of images that are set against the Facebook imagery which I then juxtaposed with the different genocides by mentioning the year and the place where they occurred.
I have experienced and studied the work of Jaroslav Koslovski. In one of his works that I saw in Krakow, he represented the place of a genocide with a pigment. I was also inspired by Hiller’s juxtaposition of normal daily life in today’s Germany to the Holocaust.
Ira Hoffecker, Photo 1/12 of photo series pertaining to genocides, 16x20 inches, 2016
In my photo series I used the shadow of my own body in different places. In my video, I used my own voice. I wanted to use my own body as a tool for introspection: I investigate my role in relation to the history of my ancestral culture and my own family and to my presence in this world today. By using my body, I ask myself what I would have done if I had lived under the Nazi regime. Would I have stood up and defended others or would I have been a coward and shut up?
My work reflects on our role as people today, asking, how we may be paralyzed, when we should stand up and try to prevent bad things from happening. I want to inspire the viewer to think about his or her own role.
When one walks through the first three rooms of the Permanent Collection in the House of the Wannsee Conference memorial and museum in Berlin, one can see how the Nazi regime unfolded. Hitler was elected democratically. Even though he lost the presidential election in 1932, he was appointed chancellor on January 30th, 1933. Within a very short time he became the unanimous ruler of Germany. During the first years, propaganda of hate against intellectuals, communists, the media and journalists, the LGBT community and the Jewish communities was built up. Hitler’s supporters and members of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party NSDAP came together in huge rallies where hate was preached, lies were told and all the atrocities were announced. More and more people were arrested until no one could question their dogma and protest, without the fear of arrest and death. At the end of the third room in this exhibition, the viewer realizes that there are unbelievably strong parallels between the Nazis initial policies to the politics in many countries today.
It is hard to compare my work to the work of artists like Hiller, Boltanski and Attie. I know I still need to work hard to continue to find additional and different ways how I can discuss German identity. Because of my heritage, I want to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive. I am convinced that if my and subsequent generations learn from our German past, they become responsible citizens, and will try everything to prevent hatred and exclusion from ever happening again.
Assmann, Aleida: Erinnerungsräume: Formen und Wandlungen des kulturellen Gedächtnisses (C. H. Beck Kulturwissenschaft), pocketbook, 2011
Not only individuals but also cultural circles create a memory in order to establish an identity, to win legitimization and to define aims. The author Aleida Assmann asks for the different duties of cultural memory, its media (writings, imagery and memorials) in the course of history and technology as well as how to deal with saved knowledge. Besides politics and science, art is taking on an increasing responsibility in this area.
Attie, Shimon: The Writings on the Wall: Projections in Berlin’s Jewish Quarter. Shimon Attie – Photographs and Installations (Heidelberg: Edition Braus) 1994, ISBN: 9783894660956
Bar on, Bat-Ami: The Subject of Violence: Arendtean Exercises in Understanding (Feminist Constructions), Published May 1st 2002 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, ISBN 0847697703
The author explores and discusses the work of Hannah Arendt. The book is a critical investigation of violence. At its background are feminist concerns, but also concerns with violence that press against the feminist problematic and push its boundaries. Weaving biographical fragments with theory, the book addresses the very thinking of violence, the possibility and implications of its comprehension, genocide (the Shoah in particular) and nationalism.
Buschbeck, Lysann: Christian Boltanski. The Missing House (Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin – Mitte), Mahnmale in Berlin, online guide to Berlin’s Memorials, https://www.hgb-leipzig.de/mahnmal/bolti.html
Deines, Stefan; Liptow, Jasper; Seel, Martin: Kunst und Erfahrung, Beitraege zu einer philosophishen Kontroverse, Suhrkamp Verlag Berlin, 2013, ISBN 978-3-518-29645-5
The authors investigate which role sense and experience play when it comes to the perception of art. They investigate if there is a specific aesthetic experience and how it can be defined precisely. Several other authors like Georg W. Bertram, Noel Carroll, Jarrold Levinson, Eva Schuermann and James Shelley enlighten the context of art and experience from a systematic perspective. The most important essay in preparation for my thesis was Stefan Deines essay Kunstphilosophie und Kunsterfahrung, Eine Pluralistische Perspektive, page 218 to 250.
Dierl, Dr. Florian, Botsch, Dr. Gideon: The Wannsee Conference and Genocide of the European Jews. Published by House of the Wannsee Conference, Memorial and Educational Site, 2006. ISBN 978-3-9808517-8-7. This is the detailed catalogue of the permanent exhibition at the House of the Wannsee Conference. In 15 exhibition rooms the viewer is slowly lead through the history of National Socialism in Germany. From the beginning of the Third Reich to the room where the Genocide of the European Jewry was decided on January 20th, 1942. The book provides a historical background of anti-Semitism and racism and provides an analysis of the propagandist concept of the Nazis.
Danilo Eccher, Daniel Soutif and Paolo Fabbri: Christian Boltanski, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna, ISBN 88-8158-117-5, Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Galleria d'arte moderna, Villa delle Rose, Bologna, May 30-Sept. 7, 1997.
In this catalogue, with essays also by Daniel Soutif and Paolo Fabbri, Eccher analyses Boltanski’s early works and discusses his exhibition Christian Boltanski - Pentimenti in Bologna in 1997, during the time while Eccher was artistic director of the Galleria. The text in this book, which was published also in 1997, is written in both Italian and English.
Gumpert, Lynn: Christian Boltanski, Flammarion Publishing House, 1994, ISBN 2080135597, pp145-146.
One of Boltanski's favorite themes is his own life story, both actual and reinvented, which he evokes through startling collections of photographs and objects. In other pieces, he assembles seemingly mundane elements to address some of the most fundamental and disturbing contradictions of twentieth-century life. In her essay, art historian Lynn Gumpert analyzes and provides a context for Christian Boltanski’s haunting works that have the unsettling ability to be merry and morbid at the same time. The detailed book spans the entire range of Boltanski's production, materials, and influences, focusing on those of Boltanski’s works in which he discusses his own life story.
Haverkamp, Alfred ‘Europas Juden im Mittelalter – Streifzuege’ in the exhibition
catalogue Europas Juden im Mittelalter, Palatinate Historical Museum Speyer, and
German Historical Museum Berlin, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2005, p.34.
Haverkamp is exploring the existence of Jewish life in Europe since the year 70 (CE)
from the destruction of the Second Temple and the beginning of the exile. The author
describes the persecution of Jewish people over the centuries and examines their role
as victims in Europe.
Hiller, Susan, Heiser, Joerg J-Street Project, ISBN 0-9546545-8-7, Published by Compton Verney and Berlin Artists-in-Residence program, DAAD, 2005. In addition to essays by Susan Hiller and Joerg Heiser, this book contains a photo of every single street sign in Germany containing the word Jude (Jew) in the years 2002 – 2004. This book enriches the discussion of how to remember the Holocaust in Germany.
Hiller, Susan: The Provisional Texture of Reality, Selected talks and texts from 1977 to 2007, JRP/Ringier, Zurich, Les Presses du reel, Dijon, 2008, ISBN 978-3-905829-56-3
In the text 3.512 words, we find excerpts from an interview of Joerg Heiser and Jan Verwoert with Susan Hiller which was conducted on March 15th, 2007. In the interview, Hiller discusses, among others, her work Dedicated to the Unknown Artists in detail. In the book Hiller publishes a selection of many different texts and ideas relating to her own work, and to other artists.
Hodes, Laura: “Shimon Attie: Projects Past into present”, November 16th, 2012, Forward website, Forward.com, Education grounded on Jewish values
Ladd, Brian: The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape. The University of Chicago Press, 1998. ISBN 978-0-226-46762-7.
The author tells the story and provides historic context of many different Berlin landmarks. He writes about what happened to the urban landscape during the times of the Prussian Kingdom, The German Empire, The Third Reich and the Divided City and its new contemporary identity. This is an important book when one explores the history of Berlin.
Lauterwein, Andrea: 2007. Anselm Kiefer/Paul Celan: Myth, Mourning and Memory, London: Thames & Hudson, 2007. ISBN 9780500238363
Paul Celan was one of the most important poets to emerge after post-World War II. The use of Paul Celan’s name and writings in his paintings must have helped Anselm Kiefer to discuss and understand the Jewish side of the disaster caused by the Germans. Kiefer’s dialogue with this poet has been interpreted as a ‘leitmotif’ throughout his work. This book traces Anselm Kiefer's use of themes from 20th century German history, and shows how the poet Paul Celan's writings have influenced his work for over 25 years.
Leventis, Andreas, Susan Hiller: The J-Street Project: Timothy Taylor Gallery, Modern Painters 106 JI/August 2005, ISSN 505136434.
This article contains a review of the J-Street Project installation at Timothy Taylor Gallery in London in April 2005 and a description of Hiller’s career. She spent the last 40 years looking for ghosts, demonstrating an unremitting commitment to protecting the memory of the dead through her sound installations and assemblages of artefacts.
Little, Carl, Susan Hiller: The J-Street Project, Art New England, May/June 2011, Vol.32 Issue 3, ISSN 02747073. This is a review of the J-Street Project, the installation on display at Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine. Hiller’s installation documents her efforts to record every place in Germany with a reference to Jewish life.
Muir, Peter: Shimon Attie’s Writing on the Wall, History, Memory, Aesthetics, Ashgate Publishing Limited, England, 2010, ISBN 978-0-7546-6963-0.
In his book, author Peter Muir theorizes the images both as a memorial activity and an index or habitation of history. He refers to and responds to a series of propositions arising from the text ‘On the Concept of History’ by Walter Benjamin.
Ruchel-Stockmans, Kataryzna: Impossible Self representation, Image & Narrative, Online Magazine of the Visual Narrative, Journal, ISSN 1780 678X, 2006
Through his exaggerated attempts at self-mythologizing, where forgeries are intermingled with confessions of his trespasses, Boltanski develops a strategy of intently maintaining contradictory aims and principles, which allows him to expose the covert mechanisms of self-writing, reconstructing the past and creating artist’s myths.
Rürup, Reinhard (Hrsg.): Jüdische Geschichte in Berlin. Bilder und Dokumente. Edition Hentrich, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-89468-181-0.
Semin, Dedier, Garb, Tamar, Kuspit, Donald: Christian Boltanski, Phaidon Press Limited, 1997, ISBN 9780 7148 36584.
This book consists of essays by the authors and an interview by Tamar Garb with Christian Boltanski. Also, there is a passage with writings by Christian Boltanski ‘Research and Presentation of all that Remains of my Childhood’ and a section about the artist’s work at the Venice Biennale.
Solomon-Godeau, Abigail: Mourning and Melancholia, Christian Boltanski’s Missing House, Oxford University Press, Oxford Art Journal, Vol 21, No2, (1998), pp 3-20. In her text the author Abigail Solomon–Godeau argues that Boltanski’s Missing House is not a memorial and a site of mourning. According to Freud this would require acknowledgment of the irrevocable loss of the object precisely in its specific and singular identity. The work of mourning can never be generic, but only accomplished through the conscious recognition of the singularity and irreplaceability of what has been lost.
Stonard, John-Paul: Germany Divided: Baselitz and his Generation. British Museum Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0-7141-2690-6. This is the book that was published to accompany the exhibition of the same name at the British Museum from February 6th to August 31st, 2014. In this book, Stonard looks in detail at artists who grew up in Germany’s former Eastern Germany: Georg Baselitz, Markus Luepertz, Blinky Palermo, A.R. Penck, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter. The author discusses their work and how they investigated identity in Eastern Germany after WWII.
Young, James E.: At Memory’s Edge, After-Images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 2002, ISBN: 9780300094138
James E. Young was the only Jew to be invited to join a German commission appointed to find an appropriate design for a national memorial in Berlin to the all the Jews killed in Europe during WWII. In his book he discusses how Germany should commemorate the mass murder of Jews. Young gained a unique perspective on Germany’ s fraught efforts to memorialize the Holocaust and discusses his role in this commission.
Weiner, Julia, Bearing Witness, Julia Weiner explores the background to Susan Hiller’s J-Street Project, Interview with Susan Hiller, Jewish Quarterly, A Magazine of Contemporary Writing, Politics and & Culture, Autumn 2005. This is a very detailed, 10-page interview by Julia Weiner with Susan Hiller from 2005. Besides discussing her J-Street Project the artist also talks about other works like Dedicated to the Unknown Artist, Witness and Psychic Archaeology.
 Lauterwein, Andrea: Anselm Kiefer/Paul Celan: Myth, Mourning and Memory, page 23
 Gumpert, Lynn: Christian Boltanski, pp145-146
 Buschbeck, Lysann: Mahnmale in Berlin, Das fehlende Haus, Page 1
 Danilo Eccher: Christian Boltanski, Page 89
 Abigail Solomon-Godeau: Mourning and Melancholia, Oxford University Press, Page 3
 Abigail Soloman-Godeau: Mourning and Melancholia, Oxford University Press, Page 4
 Dedier Semin, Tamar Garb, Donald Kuspit: Christian Boltanski, Page 24
 Buschbeck, Lysann: Mahnmale in Berlin, Das fehlende Haus, Page 2 and
Dedier Semin, Tamar Garb, Donald Kuspit: Christian Boltanski, Page 24
 Dedier Semin, Tamar Garb, Donald Kuspit: Christian Boltanski, Page 46
 Peter Muir: Shimon Attie’s Writing on the Wall, Page 2
 James E. Young, At Memory’s Edge (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000) p.71
 Shimon Attie: The Writings on the Wall: Projections in Berlin’s Jewish Quarter. Shimon Attie – Photographs and Installations (Heidelberg: Edition Braus) 1994. Page 11
 Peter Muir: Shimon Attie’s The Writing on the Wall, page 34
 Shimon Attie: The Writing on the Wall: Projections in Berlin’s Jewish Quarter. Shimon Attie – Photographs and Installations (Heidelberg: Edition Braus) 1994. Page 10 and Peter Muir Page 12
 Shimon Attie et al. The Writing on the Wall: Projections in Berlin’s Jewish Quarter. Shimon Attie – Photographs and Installations (Heidelberg: Edition Braus) 1994. Page 10
 Robert Brown: The Holocaust and Problems of Historical Representation, in History and Theory, (May 1994), 172-197 (page 176)
 Andreas Huyssen: Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003) pp.3-4
 Little, Carl, Susan Hiller: The J.Street Project, Art New England, May/June 2011, page 54
 Weiner, Julia, Bearing Witness, Interview with Susan Hiller, Jewish Quarterly, page 3
 Hiller, Susan, Heiser, Joerg J-Street-Project, page 6
 Weiner, Julia, Bearing Witness, Interview with Susan Hiller, Jewish Quarterly, page 8
 Leventis, Andreas, Susan Hiller: The J-Street Project: Timothy Taylor Gallery, Modern Painters, p.106
 Weiner, Julia, Bearing Witness, Interview with Susan Hiller, Jewish Quarterly, page 6
 Hiller, Susan, Heiser, Joerg J-Street-Project, page 632
 Hiller, Susan, Heiser, Joerg, J-Street-Project, page 7
 Haverkamp, Alfred Europas Juden im Mittelalter – Streifzuege, p.34,
 Weiner, Julia, Bearing Witness, Interview with Susan Hiller, Jewish Quarterly, page 2
 Bar on, Bat-Ami: The Subject of Violence: Arendtean Exercises in Understanding, page 57