2018 - Ongoing
France; Poland; Berlin, Germany
My project RAUFASER (ingrain wallpaper) is an ongoing photographic essay on my individual and collective identity as german against the background of the phenomenon of unconsciously passing on traumas to future generations in a time which marks the 75. year of liberation of the death camp Auschwitz and the end of world war II.
There is evidence that the effects of untreated inherited trauma and the resulting mental disorders are intensified in the third generation. Inexplicable fears and an insecure attitude towards life still characterize the generation of war children and grandchildren today. One of three Germans is affected by this, estimates the author Sabine Bode. She interprets this as the root of a specific german Angst.
The focus of my work is the visual examination of the biography of my grandparents - especially of my grandmother Irmgard (née Adam) Konrad.
By combining archival material, documents, video clips, objects and my own photographs, I would like to trace this special but also exemplary German biography from political socialization in the Silesian city of Breslau to the imprisonment in the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau and as a forced laborer in Ravensbrück concentration camp till the liberation on the death march in the small Mecklenburg village of Kritzow. The martyrdom ended 75 year ago when she gained a new life in France followed by the conscious return to Germany to be part of the utopian idea of constructing an antifascist and socialist german state, the GDR.
This raises questions about my own origins and identity as the grandson of a survivor of the Shoah with certainly also traumatic experiences through years of imprisonment, but also their transfer to collective, historically shaped experiences as German, which have an impact on our present and future.
75 years after the liberation of the death camp Auschwitz and the rise of ultra right winged party AFD in Germany I am questioning what is does this passing on individually experienced traumas mean, which continue to have an effect over several years and which can reveal themselves in the self-image, in the emotional experience, in the unconscious action of future generations.
I ask myself questions like: What does this mean for my generation and its descendants, what does it mean for myself? How much trauma experience of our ancestors is still in us today? How important it is to know the biographies of our grandparents better?
Inspired by the confrontation with my identity, I came across photographs, letters, documents and interviews, traveled together with my mother to fateful places in his grandmother's life. On the journey on my grandmothers traces, the pictures found me.
I opened the small box of my grandmothers memories: her fears, despair and her loneliness keep the indescribable drama awake, but also her positive attitude to life, her social skills, her love and her tireless fight against fascism are part of the family memory and a reminding legacy at the same time. "Raufaser" is certainly a photographic essay about a very personal story however its inseparably interwoven with the particular german collective history.