Dancing Auschwitz

In June 2009, I, together with my father, my four children and niece, travelled to Poland, The Czech Republic and Germany to retrace my parents’ past.

The video installation,  Dancing Auschwitz, stemmed from my desire to create artwork that conveys a fresh interpretation of historical memory. This way, the lessons of the past will not be forgotten.

Dancing Auschwitz, comprises a large photographic image together with three video pieces:  a contemporary performance dance, an old video footage of a dance, and a documentary. The contemporary dance and documentary video were filmed during our recent family trip, while the old video footage is from a family home movie from my childhood.

The contemporary dance video, ( I Will Survive: Dancing Auschwitz. Part 1) portrays the family, comprising three generations, improvising an awkward dance to the pop song ‘I will survive.’(Gloria Gaynor, 1978) This was performed at numerous historically traumatic sites from my parents’ past. The dance expresses an attempt at celebrating life, but also evokes absence, loss and mourning.

The old family movie ( I Will Survive: Dancing Auschwitz. Part 2) portrays my parents and their friends – all Holocaust survivors - together with me as a little girl, dancing freely in a forest. This footage illustrates how both dancing, and my parents’ attitude to life, have been woven into my own life. Growing up, I was always present while my parents danced. As an adult, it seemed a natural process to merge the two influences that have shaped my life – that of my parents’ story and that of dance – hence the project, ‘Dancing Auschwitz.’

The documentary video ( I Will Survive: Dancing Auschwitz. Part 3 ) reveals snippets of our visits to several sites where the past is re-enacted, and repressed memories are brought to the surface. While on a cattle wagon, my father reenacts the memory of his experience heading to Auschwitz, sixty-five years earlier, and appears to enter a trancelike state. The documentary also touches on my own personal thoughts on being Jewish, with its associated difficulties.

The photographic image was inspired by the philosopher, Theodor Adorno, who declared that ‘Art must go on even after Auschwitz.’ Its message is a hope for humanity to continue its struggle with the self – including what Auschwitz symbolises - the continuing dark horrors of our world.

By creating a ‘new response’ incorporating dance, the three generations and memory, I have endeavored to capture the poignancy of the past, the uncertainty of the present, and an opportunity for a more tolerant future.

Double click on image to open ALBUM



Dancing Auschwitz: I Will Survive. Part1 (Silenced Version)

Dancing Auschwitz: I Will Survive. Part2

Dancing Auschwitz: I Will Survive. Part3

For maximum visual effect, the above three video clips are played simultaneously in a gallery space

Dancing Auschwitz goes viral, June 2010