FYI - Baylor is hosting a conference on Faith and Film...the call for papers is out.
Yesterday I bumped into this article discussing the disparity of the historical legacy and tourist future of the Nazi concentration camps, particularly Auschwitz. The author discusses her recent visit to the site, and as she passed through, she struggled with, what might be construed as her comfortable humanity poking through in pointed ways, with thoughts of her hunger (as starving), her tired feet (killing her). At each point, she shuddered at the thought once her mind had articulated it.
She wonders, as I have, what is this place? What place should it hold in our world. With my long interest in sacred space, is this a sacred space of sorts. Not the way a church or mosque is, but because of memory of the horrors committed by humanity upon humanity. The idea of holy typically connotes set aside, and in that sense, this place is set aside, not from Godly prerogatives, but because of its awfulness. With Israel's command to remember, in the Torah, this place serves as a place, a sacred place, set aside to carry forward the memory of those who were killed here.
As this place has become a tourist site, with its positives of moving forward the memory as those who survived the Holocaust are passing at an increasing rate because of their age, this place will remain, beyond their live and witness to be 2nd hand physical memory of the terrors inflicted here. With this necessity, comes with it the unfortunate reality of consumer products (coffee mugs with the word Remember printed upon it). There is something that turns in my stomach with this thought of commercializing this place, and yet, I understand the need for funding to preserve this place. I understand it...it still doesn't feel right.
I agree with her that this place, and others like it, along with the remaining survivors, these places and experiences need to be kept alive, images made, stories told, and places intact to avoid letting these memories slip into the abstract, but must remain as concrete as possible.
So while this is way overdue, it is still worth the time to blog about it. In January, my colleague Jessica Christy and I shared an exhibit in the MSU library gallery here on campus. It was to be a solo show for her, but she asked if I wanted to share the show which, of course, I jumped at the opportunity to show with her again.
Jessica is one of our closest friends from back in our days at UND in grad school. We were office and studio mates, shared many hours together in those places and as friends away from them. In the light of this, it is no wonder that when so many shared ideas, concepts, and such, that our work seems to hang together so well. While we are off on our own topical trajectories, we employ many of the same methods, concepts, materials, and forms. Hers often about the difficulty of navigating two cultures (Native and white), mine the memory and identity attached to the photographic objects. We both use pine trays, boxes, and found objects to explore these ideas in a variety of ways.
In our estimation, the exhibit hung together well, suggested an array of complex themes and ideas, and allowed the visitors to consider the symbolic nature of daily materials that have been re-purposed and re-contextualized.
Take a look at the works below. Enjoy!
Oh...and apologies for the iPad shots...its just too easy not to use.