DISPLACED MEMORIES

Displaced Memories move the absence of Shoah into the center. The absence of what actually occurred, the abasement of the people, their degradation and their murder, is so extreme that a demand is placed on the beholder's eye, which as paradox as that is attempts to fill in what is missing. Memory is formed not by the object depicted, it takes shape in the interference between picture and viewer instead: by letting the person looking allow themself to be drawn into the blank spaces and, at the same time, in a kind of countermovement, by calling up stores of knowledge in the form of other images, books, narratives, historical data, experiences or other recollections, and by making the correlations among them. Memory is then neither a storehouse, container or secured place for safekeeping. It is rather more of a continuously variable space for remembering within the subjects themselves. With Displaced Memories, Till Leeser requires that work in recalling be done based on purposely doing without distinctness through blurring, colors, the choice of objects a lack of clarity that uses technique to write over and defamiliarize the sections or fragments of enclosures, walls, ceilings and buildings out of their present state. A lack of focus which, alongside ambiguity, also creates a certain disorientation (incidentally, to be interpreted as a decidedly opposed position to the National Socialists' totalitarian conduct prevalent on all levels) which refers to that which was through that which is not there. Particularly therein lies the intersection with the photographs of the Auschwitzkoffer ('Auschwitz suitcase'), photos which lead the viewer to face Shoah. Through their living presence the persons testify to that which has not yet happened, a presence simultaneously ritualized in the genre of the family photo. These photographs, whose focal point is not the spaces forcibly emptied of people (as with Till Leeser) but the people themselves, were taken to show a future. A future that was supposed to depict a communicable space to be experienced, yet one that ended up completely negated as a result of persecution and annihilation. Emerging inexorably out of contemporary knowledge, horror is generated in the eye of the beholder here because the abasement, degradation and death are enhanced and posed beside the 'normal' family photos that testify to not knowing what is to come. Both 'collections' would thus complement each other in a congenial way as two different forms of memory. Though the methods used are reversed, both point to the blank spaces and extermination that attest to Shoah.

Dr.Ariane Eichenberg


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