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07.05.2005 - 26.06.2005, Karlsruhe
In her third solo show with Meyer Riegger the German artist Silke Schatz (*1967) constructs a contemporary portrait of the Czech city Terezín. The Nazi showpiece camp and ghetto of Theresienstadt (1941 - 1945), now Terezin, forms the basis for her new works.
The exhibition shows drawings, a paper object and a sculpture which fills the room.
In her drawing “Terezín I”, 2005 the ground plan of the ghetto forms the basis for an abstract outline of the present day city.
The walk-in sculpture “extraterrestrial”, 2005 is a wooden plateau, which depicts the star-shaped ground plan of the historic citadel of Terezín, and on which the supersized main square spans; a photomontage on grey cardboard reproduces the square. The illuminated paper object “Brundibár”, an oversized star, originally taken from a Christmas activities book, shows a scene from the propaganda film “Der Führer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt”(1944), by Kurt Gerron, who was an occupant of the ghetto and commissioned to make the film by Himmler. The scene shows an excerpt of the children’s opera Brundibár by Hans Krása, which became very popular and was played over fifty times in the ghetto. The drawing “Terezín II, Bankomat” hangs across from the object, showing a view from the central square of the town, reaching from a building which is today a Czech bank, and was formerly the SS-headquarters, to the Magdeburg barracks, where the children’s opera was played on illegal stages under the roof.
How can one interpret the contradiction of being culturally active while living under inhumane conditions as it was possible in the ghetto of Theresienstadt, unlike in other camps, and what does it mean that human beings live in Terezín today?
“Now we may ask, at the end of our special story, whether it is worthwhile to retain it, to investigate it so thoroughly that we may learn more from it than mere knowledge, more than chronicles and annals, more than a retrospective commemoration would be.” (H.G.Adler)
“..., and because in its almost futuristic deformation of social life the ghetto system had something incomprehensible and unreal about it, although Adler describes it down to the last detail in its objective reality.“ (W.G. Sebald)
W.G. Sebald’s protagonist Austerlitz speaks of an “extraterritorial place” resulting in an association to the term “extraterrestrial”, this creates a very distinctive picture. Theresienstadt-Terezín seems extraterrestrial like a star, like a phobia, and apt to be suppressed.
H.G. Adler, Theresienstadt 1941 - 1945, das Antlitz der Zwangsgemeinschaft, J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tübingen, 1955
H.G. Adler, Die verheimlichte Wahrheit, Theresienstädter Dokumente, J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tübingen, 1958
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz, Penguin Books, London, 2002, p. 331
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz, Fischer TB Verlag, Frankfurt/Main, 2003, S. 339
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Grundriß von Theresienstadts öffentlicher Schautafel
Ghetto 1941-45 und aktuelle Hauswandfarben Studie, 2005
lead and coloured pencil on paper
210 x 240 cm