Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide, 6 July – 15 September 2016
The Wiener Library’s new exhibition will explore the Nazi labour and extermination camps of Treblinka using the ground-breaking research of Staffordshire University archaeologist Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls and artistic responses to the topic curated by Michael Branthwaite.
For the first time in the UK, this archaeological work will be adapted and displayed along with specially commissioned artworks by Michael Branthwaite, Janine Goldsworthy, Dave Griffiths, Hilary Jack and Jenny Steele.
Through the team’s unique, predominantly non-invasive approach, a more accurate picture of the camps has emerged. At the same time, religious and ethical considerations surrounding their investigation have been respected. This work allowed the old gas chambers, mass graves and a large number of objects to be located. The innovative exhibition includes highlights from the Library’s collections, such as a contemporary map of Treblinka, Nazi documentation and testimony from survivors. It examines the history and architecture of the camps and the forensic archaeological process that helped reveal the camp’s history. The exhibition also explores the application of art as a means to provide access to scientific and historic data.
The Precarious University/Chorlton Arts Festival, Sunday 22 May, 2016
The symposium aimed to form a critical discourse on the art school’s history and potential, and construct a radically open and popular concept of the art school for the 21st century within the unique surroundings of the Smallest Sculpture Park in the World, in a Chorlton back garden. The Precarious University is a collaboration between @.ac and Levenshulme Contemporary Art Centre, and the symposium was attended by artists, students and members of Islington Mill Art Academy and School of the Damned. The resulting dialogue between participants is transcribed, in abridged form, here.
With: Andy Broadey, Jasmir Creed, David Daly, Dave Griffiths, Claire Hignett, Ahmed Hassan, Jane Lawson, Giles Marshall, Nathanial Mason, Richard Miles, Bob Nancollis, Dr Amanda Ravetz and Lisa Risbec.
35mm B&W microfilm collage, microfiche reader, 350 x 400 x 350mm
“Looking squarely ahead, brave and joyous, at the world. The squads march to work. All that matters to us now is Treblinka. It is our destiny.” Song by Kurt Franz, Treblinka commandant, August-November 1943
Viewers browse through a layered, compressed representation of trench TREB04, excavated in 2013 on the site of the gas chamber at Treblinka, Poland. Magnified microfilm fragments depict archaeological trench finds that locate place and corroborate Holocaust eyewitness testimony. Viewers perform the evidence, as durational observers who optically uncompress the material over time. They navigate the brief time and space of the camp’s mechanised, chaotic extermination and demolition, enacting gestures inherent to decoding the indexical illusions of both photography and forensis. Data and images from the excavation combine with microfilm’s archival potential as carrier of textual evidence for future translation.
Produced for the touring exhibition Finding Treblinka: Artists Respond, commissioned by Centre for Archaeology, Staffordshire University, and funded by Rothschild Foundation. Data courtesy of forensic archaeologist Caroline Sturdy-Colls.
Museum of Struggle and Martyrdom in Treblinka, 2 August – September 2015
Curated by Caroline Sturdy-Colls & Michael Branthwaite: “Finding Treblinka includes new physical evidence uncovered at the sites of the former Nazi extermination and labour camps during a seven-year research investigation undertaken by staff from Centre of Archaeology at Staffordshire University, which have shed new light on the nature of the Nazis’ crimes. A temporary exhibition Finding Treblinka: Artists Respond accompanies the permanent installation, representing an innovative collaboration in which artists have responded to archaeological findings from both the extermination and labour camps. The opening of the exhibitions will feature a commemoration ceremony, and takes place on the 72nd anniversary of the Treblinka revolt.
The artists responses have been driven by their individual practice and concerns over how specialist scientific information can be communicated to a wider audience. The show focuses on how artists can create new discourses and dialogues that create change in the way we think about history and its relationship with the present. It explores how we process and build histories around objects, and how science and art can come together to enhance public knowledge about sensitive and traumatic events.
The artworks range from text-based wall works to free standing sculpture. Re-appropriated objects also feature, such as a re-upholstered chair exhibiting motifs from the objects found during the excavations at Treblinka. Since the objects found during these excavations will remain at the site, the artworks will eventually provide a travelling surrogate, offering viewers a conversational experience that will also hopefully encourage people to visit Treblinka”.
Archaeological research by Caroline-Sturdy Colls, with artists Michael Branthwaite, Janine Goldsworthy, Dave Griffiths, Hilary Jack and Jenny Steele.