Zuzanna Hertzberg: Individual and Collective Resistance of Women During the Shoah
KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Auguststraße 69, 10117 Berlin
Attendance is possible with a valid exhibition ticket.
The Individual and Collective Resistance of Women During the Shoah performance is a continuation of my research and an attempt to recover herstories of resistance of Jewish women from Central and Eastern Europe—their ways of dealing with harsh reality, and the strategies and roles they have chosen in order to create differently built societies which are expanding. What methods did they use? What kind of social bonds allowed them to achieve the impossible? How did they respond to oppression? And how can we use this knowledge today in the battles we fight?
Emancipation in minority groups follows different rules than in majority groups. Patterns cannot be translated; coalitions and alliances are formed for different reasons. Solidarity is a reaction, not a choice. For those about whom I am talking, the most important act was to pass on testimony in various forms: shouted out before a public execution; written on scraps of toilet paper; the last will whispered to a friend before a dying woman’s passing—the will to survive. Not as a physical body, but as a part of a collective story to be passed on. Someone / something must survive. Survival is a form of victory. I refer to various attitudes in order to avoid building simplifying clichés.
Recovering biographies from scraps is an act of protest against what is in the textbooks and what is passed on to become the tools used to build fascism. A different view of the past yields new ways of looking at the present, and a chance for an unappropriated future. Lack of resistance is not only the result of powerlessness, but also an effect of social circumstances. Who has the right to remember and to speak for those who are absent? How much does it cost, and what are the rules for the distribution of knowledge? Is working on memory a real job?
I am part of the story. It is a story of sisterhood stretched over an extended timeline, an attempt to maintain dialogue through storytelling and simple human honesty by fulfilling the will of the heroines, who speak from a place of love.
L’chaim! for life! but life and survival is not enough—I take over and pass on the story so that it can come true.
With the support of Adam Mickiewicz Institute; The Tarbut Fellowship; ZAiKS Creativity Support Fund
Visual material and images from the archives Beit Lohamei Haghetaot – Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum Archives, Western Galilee; The Yad Vashem – World Holocaust Remembrance Center Archives, Jerusalem; Jewish Historical Institute Archives, Warsaw; Central Archives of Modern Records, Warsaw; The Archives of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Oświęcim
This performance is part of the discursive program of the 12th Berlin Biennale. Taking the restitution debate as a starting point, it explores how colonialism and imperialism continue to operate in the present.