The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Monday, April 21, 2014


Artist Susan Hiller's Exploration of Germany's Unintentional Memorials to its Jewish Past
Susan Hiller, The J.Street Project’, 2002-2005. Video installation: single channel projection colour, stereo, PAL, 16:9 FHA 67 min, looped. Courtesy the artist and Timothy Taylor Gallery, London.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Artist Susan Hiller's chance encounter with a Berlin street called Judenstrasse (Jews Street) in 2002 was the unexpected experience that set into motion an arduous three year journey to find and photograph every street in Germany with the prefix Juden (Jews) in its name - a surprising 303 sites in all. Hiller was initially shocked, but mostly confused by this strangely ambiguous commemoration of people who had been exterminated not so long ago. "The Jews are gone," she says, "but the street names remain as ghosts of the past, haunting the present."

The J.Street Project, an evocative exhibition that includes Hiller's photographs and a film, is the result of her long and fascinating look at this ambiguity. It is on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum June 18 through October 6, 2009. A limited edition companion book is also available in the Museum's gift store.

At the heart of the exhibition are the more than 300 color photographs of busy boulevards, quiet country alleys and run-of-the-mill suburban streets. Pigment printed in an almost painterly fashion on watercolor paper and identically sized and framed, the images are hung in a seven-foot grid - a silent procession of thoroughfares and the signs that mark them. The mood of each image is distinct as the season, time of day and location change, but in each there is a sense of the unresolved nature of the historical status of these places. A snowy country lane lying along the railroad tracks, while charming, attests to a long and bleak legacy of discrimination and segregation when Jews were not allowed to use main roads and were restricted to paths on the outskirts of villages and towns. Some streets mark ancient Jewish settlements from as early as the 11th Century indicating the historical depth of Jewish life in Germany. A narrow city alley is a testament to how cramped and oppressive ghetto streets were.

And while most of the images are devoid of people, Hiller's camera captures many incidental and transient details - weather, buildings, cows, cars, a few children. "It's their everyday matter-of-fact-ness that makes the photographs unsettling," she says. "They convey an uncanny resonance by revealing connections between some very ordinary contemporary locations, history and remembrance, as the street signs repeatedly name what's missing from all these places."

The exhibition also features Hiller's 67-minute single-channel video that further interrogates the ordinariness surrounding the 303 street signs, which appear to be entirely overlooked by the current residents. Traffic stops at a light, an old man's hat blows off his head, birds flit by, people chat. But these banal moments exist in an uneasy tension with scenes that seem rife with a darker meaning - under a sign that reads Judengasse, another sign points the way to the train station. In the background, trains regularly appear and rush off. Hiller's footage, coolly shifting from emptiness to weightiness, makes no conclusion, but does make the appeal that the traces of history in our surroundings merit interpretation.

Displayed alongside the video and the photographs is a large-scale map of Germany with each location listed and pinpointed. "The multiplicity of these places over the entire country is very special," she says. "And it opens a very different picture of what happened during the Holocaust. Somehow my image had always been of people being rounded up in Berlin and taken away ... But thinking about what happened in a tiny rural village on an old street next to the church, where there had been a Jewish community for generations, evokes a very different picture."

These streets and paths, renamed in 1938 by the Nazis to eliminate references to Jews, underwent a name-restoring process after World War II as part of the Allied program of de-Nazification. In some cases, this process is ongoing today. A clear example of this appears in the exhibition. The Nazis had changed the name of Spandau's Judenstrasse to Kinkelstrasse after a 19th Century racial theorist they admired. In 2002, the original name was restored but only after a lengthy and heated local debate. Hiller's image shows the two names mounted one over the other with Kinkelstrasse struck through in red. Both signs are framed by Christmas lights.

While The J.Street Project confronts a specific moment from the past, Hiller does not see her work as historical, but rather as an ongoing contemplation of our collective cultural dilemmas. "A photograph can only, ever, represent things as they are in the present moment when the image is taken," she says. "But the present is a summation of everything that precedes it and each photograph will be seen in the context of everything that happens afterwards. In that way, The J.Street Project has allowed me to reflect not only on one unique, incurable, traumatic absence, but also on more recent attempts to destroy minority cultures and erase their presence."

"We are honored to present this engaging and provocative project to Bay Area audiences," says CJM Director Connie Wolf. "Hiller's compelling and powerful photographs provide illuminating and insightful perspectives on examining history and the role of memory through a contemporary lens."

The J.Street Project has been shown around the world including: The National Art Museum, Beijing, China, Guandong Museum of Art, Guandong, China 2009, BAWAG Foundation, Vienna, Austria 2008/2009, Kunst-raum des Deutschen Bundestages, Berlin, Germany 2008/2009




Today's News

April 26, 2009

First Major Exhibition of J.M.W. Turner Works Opens at The National Art Museum of China

Rare 17th Century Spanish Works to Premiere at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

Exhibition of Legendary Photographer Diane Arbus's Work to be Displayed at National Museum Cardiff

Works Newly Attributed to Leonardo da Vinci to be Unveiled at High Museum in October

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Announces Cost-Saving Measures

The World's First Visual Arts Opera to be Presented at Art Basel

artnet Launches April in Paris Photographs Sale Featuring Works by Brassai, Doisneau and Kertész

Season of Rare Buddhist Arts Presented in London for the Next Three Weeks

Deichtorhallen in Hamburg Presents Cecily Brown's Large-format Canvases

Laila's Birthday, a Film that Takes Place on an Average Day, has a Weeklong Run at MoMA

Artist Susan Hiller's Exploration of Germany's Unintentional Memorials to its Jewish Past

Southern Methodist University to Host 10th International Conference on Arts & Cultural Management

International Competition Offers World's Largest Art Prize

Crystal Bridges Names Director of Museum Relations

David Seidner: Paris Fashions, 1945 to Open at the International Center of Photography

William Wegman: Fay Goes to the Akron Art Museum

Smithsonian Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Vancouver Artist Building Six Story Sculpture Through the Centre of the Vancouver Art Gallery

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- 'World's oldest message in a bottle', tossed in sea 101 years ago, reaches granddaughter

2.- East-West/West-East: Qatar unveils desert sculpture by American artist Richard Serra

3.- Ming-era 'chicken cup' sells for $36.05 million breaking record for Chinese porcelain

4.- United States pastor Kevin Sutherland convicted over Damien Hirst fake paintings

5.- Major exhibition at Pinacothèque de Paris explores the myth of Cleopatra

6.- Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles opens with inaugural exhibition "Van Gogh Live!"

7.- Landmark exhibition opens in New York exploring the ancient kingdoms of Southeast Asia

8.- Palm-sized scroll that mentions Jesus's wife is ancient: Harvard Theological Review

9.- Hitler's wife Eva Braun may have had Jewish ancestry: British television documentary

10.- Bonhams to sell Madame de Pompadour's favourite porcelain which surfaced in Devon after 350 years

Related Stories



Important Judaica and Israeli & international art bring a combined $7.9 million at Sotheby's New York

Tunisia to auction ousted despot's treasures

Andy Warhol's Mao portraits excluded from the Beijing and Shanghai shows next year

China criticises French Qing dynasty seal auction

Christie's announces auction marking the first half century of the popular and luxurious interiors shop Guinevere

Nine new exhibits debut at San Diego International Airport

Rembrandt masterpiece "Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet" back on display at National Museum Cardiff

Amber: 40-million-year-old fossilised tree resin is Baltic gold

Egyptian artist Iman Issa wins the Ist FHN Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona Award

The main chapel of the Basilica of Santa Croce open for visits after five year restoration



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Rmz. - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site