Artistic Responses to Collections
At Holocaust Centre North, we work with artists to bring to life the lesser-known stories in our archive, in ways that are meaningful to people today. Our aim is to connect past, present, and future in order to inspire creative action to help shape a better future, and remove barriers to access art and heritage.
We understand artistic research and world-making processes and as invaluable forms of knowledge production in the context of Holocaust and post-Holocaust history. We promote artistic research methodologies as gateways to previously undocumented stories, as well as objects, documents and records that have been lost or destroyed, as well as ‘things’ that don’t take archivable form. They help us connect with archival findings in personal ways and make history contemporary. Our programming includes workshops and learning sessions for schools, artist talks, temporary exhibitions, and screenings.
Holocaust Centre North’s archive includes video and audio testimony, documents, family photographs and artefacts, and many, many letters, written to or by survivors of the Holocaust. Remembering and responding to these histories takes responsibility. Fostering a culture of care when responding to stories of persecution, migration and loss is an integral part of Holocaust Centre North’s mission.
In October 2022, Holocaust Centre North launched a programme of artist residencies. Through this programme, we will work with three artists of any discipline every year, allowing them to explore our collection and the stories within it. Read on to find out more about our Memorial Gestures Residency Programme and the artists involved.
Encountering Survival: An Audioguide by Louise K Wilson and Linda O Keeffe
Louise K Wilson and Linda O Keeffe have worked with the Holocaust Centre North Archive and survivor community to develop a set of audio guides for our exhibition. Both artists have a history of working with archives or survivors of traumatic histories through sound. Louise K Wilson and Linda O Keeffe have each produced 5 tracks for Encountering Survival, focusing on ‘objects’ and ‘voices’ respectively.
Working alongside each other they reflect on the intangible, which is often difficult to archive and therefore often lost in history.
They have also produced an intimate record which bears witness to the act of remembering itself.
Artist Aous Hamoud, has produced visual responses to each track which are embedded in the browser-based app developed by Nikita Gaidakov.
We are happy to provide you with headphones, if you would like to listen when you visit our centre.
Or click the link below to listen wherever you are via our browser-based app.
These Were Not Simple Deaths features Lilian Black OBE. Lilian’s father, Eugene Black, lost his entire family in the Holocaust, except for his elder brother. Eugene was liberated from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. We hear Lilian describe her feelings and thoughts about her childhood, starting with her accidental discovery of her father’s experiences as a prisoner, to their subsequent journey back to Bergen-Belsen and to Auschwitz-Birkenau where Eugene had been enslaved. As Lilian speaks, we see ancient trees, just coming into leaf. The very start of Spring. This realisation is slow to appear. We never see where the trees are located. We only see a copse of trees – eventually towering over the landscape we cannot see. Lilian Black was a former Chair of the Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association and the founder of Holocaust Centre North. The original audio of Lilian’s interview was recorded by Dr Tracy Craggs in 2016. These are not Simple Deaths is the result of a research residency at Holocaust Centre North throughout late 2022 and early 2023.
Video 20 min 38 sec, Holocaust Centre North Archive, courtesy of Lilian Black & Frank Griffiths
Jordan Baseman is a visual artist and filmmaker. He received a BFA from Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmith’s College, University of London. Baseman is currently the Reader in Time-Based Media, Senior Tutor in Moving Image at the Royal College of Art, London.
Baseman has a long history of creating projects in collaboration with UK-based and international, not-for-profit and public institutions. The artworks are installations, audio works, and single-screen films. Jordan Baseman’s films are frequently featured in international exhibitions and film festivals including: Los Angeles Animation Festival (Best Experimental Short Film), San Francisco Short Film Festival, Melbourne Underground Film Festival (Best International Short Film), Oaxaca International Film Festival, Lone Star International Film Festival (where he won Best Short Film), Fargo International Film Festival (Best Experimental Film) Kansas City International Film Festival (Best Experimental Short Film), 53rd Venice Biennale, and London Short Film Festival.
Selected Recent Exhibitions and Projects: Artist in Residence, Chelsea + Westminster Hospital Intensive Care Unit, London (2021/2022); A Different Kind of Different, Matt’s Gallery, London, (2021); I Dreamt I saw you at Lidl, Without Reduction, Happy Hypocrite, Book Works, London (2021); A River in Reverse, UNTV, Unconformity, Queenstown Tasmania, Australia (2020); Fabula, BBC and Culture in Quarantine, London, (2020); Radio Influenza, Wellcome Trust, London, (2019); gendersick, Fort Worth Contemporary Art, Fort Worth, Texas, (2018); Blackout 7 Films by Jordan Baseman, Broadway Metro, Eugene, Oregon (2018); The Unconformity, Artist in Residence, Queenstown, Tasmania (2018); 1977, House of St. Barnabas, London (2017); DisObey, Matt’s Gallery @ Close-Up Cinema, London (2017).
Images courtesy of Matt’s Gallery (London) and Jordan Baseman
Memorial Gestures: Our Artist Residency Programme
Postmemory: Ben Spatz
As part of the Festival Cultures of Place, we exhibited Ben Spatz’ work Postmemory in the North from June to August 2022, which marked the beginning of the Holocaust Centre North’s engagement with Ben Spatz’s and Lindsey Dodd’s research. Ben is a nonbinary scholar-practitioner and a leader in the development of new artistic and embodied research methods at the University of Huddersfield.
The videos presented in Postmemory in the North are documentation of visits by The Judaica Project to ruined and partially restored Synagogues in Poland. In Ben’s words, his work represents ‘a kind of research on place as well as memory. In these places, we encountered the relics of genocide alongside museum exhibits, archival traces, and objects ranging from the mundane and kitschy to the downright racist.’
Nostalgia Ranch: Daria Martin
Part three of a series, Nostalgia Ranch, 2021 (anamorphic HD, 8 min), concludes Daria Martin’s work on her the dream diaries of her grandmother Susi Stiassni whose family fled Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1938, in response to the looming threat of Nazi occupation. The production of this work was accompanied by a series of workshops on Social Dreaming, facilitated by the Holocaust Centre North and with the participation of members of the third generation in Canada, Australia and the UK.
A Wounded Landscape: Marc Wilson
Over the course of six years, Marc Wilson visited over 160 locations throughout Europe, documenting sites that bore witness to acts of genocide during the Holocaust. He writes: ‘These sites persist today throughout these countries. […] They are connected by the landscapes that surround them, and the forced journeys made between them. At these sites, individual killings and slaughter on a mass scale took place, the numbers involved almost beyond our understanding. These are sites where literal life or death decisions were made, but they are also sites of hope, survival and memory.’
A creative learning session based on Marc’s work is part of our current school learning programme.
[In a way]: Paula Kolar
In 2018, Tracy Craggs recorded several interviews with camp and death march survivor Iby Knill, her children, and grandchildren. Each interview is a dialogue between Iby and one of her family members, carefully guided by Tracy’s questions. The space created and captured in these interviews is an intimate one, allowing family members to voice previously unspoken thoughts, questions and experiences.
This zine is a response to these recordings. It is, [in a way] a kind of family portrait – a portrait of a family born in the wake of the Holocaust.
The word ‘resilience’ comes up, but so does the word ‘faith’ – faith in the human potential to do good. Along with this, a strong sense of justice, and a need to take one’s bearing, to understand oneself in relation to something bigger, be that a family, nature or humankind. This work stems from the desire to gain a better understanding of how trauma is passed on through generations, and how the repercussions of the Holocaust stretch into the present, infringing upon the family of survivors more or less existentially.