I was trawling the often toxic environs of the internet this morning before even getting out of bed (always a mistake). I came across the eventual and usual cross-section of vitriol and rhetoric. Much of it turns to conspiracy of all types. Some of which I find useful, much of which is a dead-end. One can always count on Jew-hate when we dig down just a little online, and the narrative is an ancient one. I won’t elaborate further on its nature, but suffice to say it is demoralizing and saddening. Considering the global state of rising populism and confusion and the uprising and outrage expressed by Black Americans, People Of Colour, and others, we see a reckoning and new era of potential healing even as many civilizational mechanisms fail or are destroyed. This desire for justice echoes the trials we have undergone before, but perhaps with greater urgency given our interconnectedness.
I will be showcasing various Black photographers in the coming weeks as a way to amplify black voices, which have contributed to my life in ways I can’t begin to list. It’s a complex issue, and I am not shirking the dimensions of it here, but instead, I’ll leave each member to tease out that complexity as they will – it is too large for me to do so.
I want to present Gerry Phillipson’s abstract for his project on the Berlin Holocaust Memorial. My father lost his extended family to the Holocaust before his father (my grandfather Jack) escaped his wife and children, including Michael, to England and eventually to Canada. Suffice to say the topic is close to my heart, as is the ongoing struggle for universal human rights.
The Holocaust Memorial. Berlin
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas) also known as the Holocaust Memorial, was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. It was built between 1 April 2003 and 15th December 2004. It’s city centre location is one block south of the Brandenburg Gate in the Mitte neighbourhood. The site of 19,000 square meters is covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or “stelae” arranged in a grid pattern on sloping ground.
Responses to wandering this memorial will differ for everyone. My intention is to capture what, for me, were the feelings and atmosphere generated by these huge slabs set out vertically and horizontally. To achieve this, I chose to work in black and white but to include some coloured images for contrast.
The memorial first evoked a cemetery, especially the wider views, but as I walked through the slab-lined alleyways I felt the menace of being enclosed and shut in, as did the occupants of the serried ranks of huts in the extermination camps. I plan for some photographs to show ghost-like faces and figures superimposed on the stone surfaces. I’ve included examples of images I’m working on. A theme I’d like to expand is how visitors use the memorial, people picnicking among the columns, children chasing each other, playing hide and seek and climbing over the stones, the expressions on peoples’ faces. I hope to indicate that the human spirit can surmount the horrors of inhumanity and that life continues.