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x-odus

departing - staying - settling


photo of the installation

Ritula Fränkel, detail from Table and Chair, 2001
© Ritula Fränkel

X-ODUS commemorates the survivors of the Shoah who made Jewish life in Germany after 1945 possible. It remembers those who resurfaced from hiding places and concentration camps and called themselves "The remaining survivors." Those, who fundamentally shaped life "afterwards." The artistic work for X-ODUS began in public and private archives. The installations arose out of the collected material and the personal accounts of individuals. They portray the attempt to start afresh, to establish a new Jewish existence and a tentative normality in Germany after 1945.

Objects bearing traces of former events, family stories, photographs, and documents form a visual diary of remembrance in four chapters: Surviving, Re-living, Continuing, Renewing.

Surviving

The first chapter of the installation depicts the return from the hell of the German mass extermination. The exhibits in this section express hurt and grief. A lever-propelled wheelchair, for example, reflects permanent health damages resulting from imprisonment in concentration camps. The missing, on the other hand, are represented by objects left behind.

Re-living

This chapter deals with the first tentative attempts at Jewish life in Germany in the period directly after 1945. The main themes are Displaced Person Camps, daily life, and traditional celebrations in Jewish families in Berlin and Darmstadt.

Continuing

The installation "Sitting on Packed Suitcases" forms the center of this chapter. In numerous Jewish households, packed suitcases lied around in readiness for emigration. They symbolize the dream of a life outside Germany, but one which often remained imaginary or part of a memory. They also represent an underlying guilt about remaining in the country of the perpetrator.

Renewing

The final chapter of X-ODUS looks at the end of provisional arrangements and the arrival of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The installation entitled "Table and Chair" evokes memories of the homeland: A table, a chair, a tablecloth made out of Russian recipes tell of a place where memories can be savored through the sensuous world of taste.

An interactive cube puzzle depicts a selection of Berlin synagogues over the decades: before their destruction in 1885, their condition after the war and finally the roofing ceremony of the New Synagogue in the Oranienburger Straße in October 1990.

When

14 May 2004 - 18 August 2004

Where

in "The Present" segment of the permanent exhibition, 1st floor

The installation X-ODUS was initiated in 2001 and documents the process of coming to terms with Jewish life in Germany after 1945. Ritula Fränkel grew up as a Jewish child in the ruins of post-war Darmstadt. She experienced the Jewish community as it gradually asserted itself over the years. With her husband, Nicholas Morris, who as a Jamaican shares her diasporic origins, she looked back and reappraised her memories of this time. The artists would like to express their thanks to the survivors of the Shoah whose cooperation and support made this installation possible.

Nicholas Morris and Ritula Fränkel live and work in Darmstadt and Kingston (Jamaica)

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