Wednesday, November 24, 2010

London Bound

Late in December I will be shipping off my Lithuania based artwork to the Woolfson and Tay gallery in London.  There it will be in an exhibition that will kick off with an opening event around Holocaust Day.  As I will be speaking at the opening, I’ve begun to put words to my work.  Artwork often begins in a less verbal place and words are a way not only to explain it to others, but to make sense of it to myself after the fact.

I have come to realize that my work is very much about testimony.  When I was in Lithuania our guides were those who experienced the Holocaust first-hand.  In telling others of what occurred they offered their testimony as evidence, proof of what they experienced and witnessed.  In telling their experience they verify the events that occurred in a country where denial and minimization of those events is all too frequent.  Those determined women who told us of their experiences are in their 80s.  When they are gone, the testimony that they so fervently offer will be gone also. History will be rewritten to a more palatable version. It is already occurring.

So what is my role, a mere observer 70 years later?  Perhaps I should say, “What is my responsibility?” because I feel that I have one.  At minimum it is to take what I’ve learned and observed and communicate it more broadly.  We all use the tools at our disposal and so my artwork becomes a kind of testimony, reflecting my response to information I’ve learned and observed.  My experience has been that imagery allows one to tell a story that stays with the viewer.  By linking it with an image there is a visual hook and thus artwork is a natural vehicle to preserve testimony. 

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