Vanishing Memory - Daniela Ament
By: Bella Zaichik, Holocaust researcher and curator
Daniela Ament approaches remembrance of the holocaust in the powerful installation Fading Memory",
akin to two contemporary artists, Joseph Boyce, whose work " deals with personal memory, and Anselm Kiefer,
who deals with cultural memory.
The installation depicts the scene of the little boy from the Warsaw Ghetto, With his hands in the air, a scene that has come to symbolize the Holocaust period, as do railroad tracks, barbed wire fences with guard towers, and the yellow armband
The scene originated in an historical photograph taken in 1943 in Warsaw, depicting a dramatic moment in which two German soldiers aim their weapons at women and children, in the course of suppressing the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
The final destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto began on April 19, 1943, when German SS and police forces entered the Ghetto under the command of Nazi general Jorgen Stroop. The city's Jewish residents, who had received advance warning of the operation, went underground and some organized an uprising. During the operation General Stroop's staff included a German photographer, who took about 150 photos. of them were included by Stroop in an album that contained his concluding report 52 on the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto. A copy of the album was introduced at the Nuremberg Trials.
The photographer who reached the main combat zones documented the final chapter of the Warsaw Ghetto's history and his photos provide extraordinary visual testimony to the brutal end of the Ghetto. In the installation, Daniela skillfully conveys a single dramatic moment, in which the child raises his hands opposite a Nazi soldier, with his weapon aimed at him. The soldier does not appear in the installation, only in the adjacent photograph, . only the frightened child appears The dramatic force is in the hands and face of the child was skillfully designed by Daniela, the palms giving them power, and the face through which she reflects a mix of astonishment and shock.
The memory and commemoration of the holocaust are the subjects of this installation and are unusually materialized in a series of four bronze statues bearing the figure of the boy with his hands up gradually disappearing, diminishing; The first figure is fully cast; in the second the right side of the torso is gone, in the third the legs have also disappeared; and in the fourth all that remain are the head and surrendering hands floating in air without a base. The disappearance is also expressed in the gradual fading of color, and finally the disappearance of words A metaphor through which Daniela succeeds in conveying her personal sense and protest of the fading of the Holocaust's memory with the passing years on the one hand, and on the other conveying to the spectator a heroic story of the Ghetto's children, the bravery of the rebels, and above all the spirit of the free human being