end of project exhibition January 2017
44AD Gallery 4 Abbey St, Bath BA1 1NN
Absence, presence and networked resonances walking a death march route transposed, returned and retraced….
An exhibition of documentation and new work arising from the two walks, principally focussed in on the walk in Germany in February 2016.
The opening room featured documentation from the walks in Somerset and in Germany, focusing on telling the story and setting the scene. Visitors were able to consult the artists scripts for the interventions and other documentation. A series of photographs recorded soil sampling at the ‘stations’ of the walk. These stations were stopping points determined by the point where the walk in Somerset had crossed the line of the transposed route from Germany.
In Germany the walk stopped at exactly those same points, apart from the beginning, at the remains of the slave labour camp at Ovelgönne and at the end, at the site of the Bergen Belsen death camp. The stations were moments for reflection, listening to the testimony of Esther Brunstein and others. We met refugees only recently arrived and welcomed at a small town along the way we heard their stories of escape and exile at gunpoint. Voices can be heard in the gallery ambience mixed from the walk field recordings.
Two large digital prints stand beside a door way into an installation featuring the soil gathered at the stations of the walk in Germany, echoing with the sounds of the walk and Esther’s voice.
On a long sheet of fabric Esther’s handwriting is reproduced repeating the phrase she often told her children, “I survived by the skin of my teeth”
In the hall a the the top of the stairs a series of films are projected distorting with the contours of the room. The films use footage and filed recordings gathered by the walkers.
In the basement on a loop a longer raw documentary piece gives a more linear account of the walks.
As viewers return up the stairs they are met with walkers coming towards them or they find they are following in their steps.
Honouring Esther July 2015
The exhibition of work from the Somerset walk took place at 44AD Gallery in central Bath in July. In the first exhibition room a series of 10 panels showed research and documentation from the walk. ‘Relics’ gathered by the walkers were displayed in a glass cabinet and in an alcove, the notebooks they kept on the walk.
The second room showed a series of floor pieces. Each room had its own looped audio ambience forming a randomised mix of bird song, trudging feet and comments recorded on the walk. These sounds mixed with the voices of tourists and their guides, buskers, abbey bells and city seagulls calls filtering in the open door. A unique audio experience in each room. Every hour on the hour the exhibition sound was silenced by the call of the shofar and the sound of one of the interventions played as a memorial candle was burnt, momentarily. At the end of the intervention the sounds returned, the air briefly tainted by the smell of burning.
An orchid bloomed in the darkness, a resonance of the orchid farm supposedly operating from the site of the Waldeslust slave labour camp.
The light from the projection reflects into the installation room. A series of short films representing the experience of the walk are projected across the hall disappearing along the wall out to the door. Sometimes a walker has appeared to have dissolved out of the film and into the world and sometimes an exhibition visitor disappeared into the film. Across the digital divide.
On the corner of Abbey Street we looked out on the Abbey, the Roman Baths and the ceaseless ebb and flow of tourists. Exhibition week was Bath Spa University Graduation week, students in gowns and proud parents caught their souvenir shots in front of Bath’s historic architecture. Strange and powerful juxtapositions.