My keynote critically assessed the process of Holocaust musealisation, focusing on material objects and visual testimonies within a context of competing memories. Therefore I will look at three ‘Dutch’ cases: a camp jacket in the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum, a name tag in the Sobibór collection of Majdanek State Museum, and the well-known Life photograph from the Getty collection of ‘the Young Boy from Belsen’. All three are fundamentally misunderstood. Although exemplary for the current interest in traces and spaces, sites and indexicality, personal objects and family stories, and thus characteristic of the so-called Postmemory Archival Turn (Hirsch), the musealisation of familial postmemories is, however, far from straight-forward. Making persons in numbers (by uniforms), numbers in faces (by name tags), and faces in persons (by testimonies), creates a powerful archive of which the nmenonic impact supposes, paradoxically, a fundamental ‘dehumanising’ of materiality.
25 Jan 2019
Ravenstein Seminar Memory and Materiality: OSL Winter School