Eight different artists: painters, photographers, sculptors and filmmakers– have been invited to spend time in the archive of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and to turn their impressions into specially created works of art.
Our studio, invited as the project’s exhibition designer, had a crucial task of weaving artistic messages together with images of history into one seamless museum experience, able to re-awaken people’s memory and sense of history. Going through folders of the archive’s photographs, we encountered a great many people’s faces – smiling, crying, frightened or indifferent; faces of men, women and children of all ages and color.
We selected 150 images of individuals who had been variously affected by the JDC’s help, to be installed as “witnesses” in the gallery space. Many of them remained unknown, thus the only information printed by each portrait was the year and the place where the original photo was taken.
The “witnesses” were supposed to populate the exhibition at all times. A crowd of full-scale figures was first encountered at the entrance area. They continued intermittently throughout the exhibition space, serving as connecting tissue between eight art installations. Each figure was free-standing, which allowed for a considerable degree of flexibility for traveling of the show to other museum venues.