Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Ori Gersht

Last year I went to London to the Imperial War Museum to see the Ori Gersht exhibition 'This Storm is What We Call Progress'.  I wrote about it in my sketchbook at the time, but recently I haven't been able to get the 2 film pieces out of my head.

At the time, it was perhaps the stories behind the films that caught my attention, but as time goes on, it is more and more about the journeys that the subjects of each film took, that hold it.

Will You Dance For Me? (2011) is a film about the aging Czech-born dancer, Yehudith Arnon who, now frail, rocks back-and-forth in her rocking chair in the video.  She was imprisoned in Auschwitz when she was 19 years old and her punishment for refusing to dance at an SS officer’s party was to stand barefoot in the snow.  She pledged that if she survived she would dedicate her life to dance.

Ori Gersht, Will You Dance For Me, 2011 from Noga Gallery of Contemporary Art on Vimeo.

Evaders (2009) is a two-screen film which explores the mountainous path of the Lister Route, used by many to escape Nazi-occupied France. The film focuses on the ill-fated journey of Jewish writer and philosopher Walter Benjamin, whose own words give the exhibition its title.

Ori Gersht, Evaders, 2009 from Noga Gallery of Contemporary Art on Vimeo.

At the time, I wanted to find out more about the Lister Route and also, once I found some time, to read more of the work of Walter Benjamin who, rather than risk being sent back to Germany, committed suicide after being caught by the Nazis at the end of the route.  The next day, his party of fellow travelers were released and allowed to travel on.


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