vor Ort

Granada, 2011


The remainder of the former Bremen Synagogue and Jewish parish, which was plundered and set alight by storm troopers on the night of 9.11.1938, is to be found in the vaulted cellar of what is now known as Rosenak House. The installation vor Ort was developed for this space of historical importance.

A podium stands against the rear wall of this dark, low-pillared and cross-vaulted, subterranean room. The podium has been turned towards the wall and in its shape and position is reminiscent of an Almemar, which is the place in a Synagogue where the prayer leader stands with their back to the congregation, facing the scrolls of the Torah and sings out the prayer. The task of a prayer leader can be undertaken by any member of the congregation. In the installation vor Ort however, a photo album lies in place of the prayer book. With the Torah scrolls, the prayer book and the congregation missing, upon entering, patrons are invited to fill the void with new life.

Various photographs are projected onto the open pages of the photo album. These are photos of streets and events from various cities, which appear random. Due to their inability to be placed, they show moments, which could be anywhere and nowhere. These projections are accompanied by an audio track. The text being read comprises fragments and impressions from a holiday in Granada, Spain. Subjective impressions of absurd and everyday situations are read in the form of a chronological travel diary. As the storyteller comes across the story of the Sephardi Jews, however, it becomes evident that the themes of displacement and pogrom are not even to be escaped whilst on holiday.

Vor Ort is about the continual presence of historical narratives in everyday life. These stories are part of each individual’s cultural identity and continually help to shape it. At the moment the individual makes the connection between history and their own biography, history becomes a palpable place in which various points and places in time intersect one’s own body.