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EXHIBITION PROJECT


"THE DEATH IS A MASTER FROM GERMANY, HIS EYE IS BLUE"
PAUL CELAN

MEMORIAL CONCENTRATION CAMP LANGENSTEIN-ZWIEBERGE



In my work, I examine and compare the signs used in abstract communication systems. These come from areas such as history, ethnology, writing system research, religion or the natural sciences and cover a period dating from prehistoric rock drawings up to modern-day electronically data processing. It is the graphical qualities of these signs, which is most important for me and not the philosophical content or scientific significance.

One of the aims of the National Socialists was to create a homogeneous racial community, without individual will, following orders unconditionally. Alternative thinkers, the disabled, minority social groups, religious people and individualists were sorted out and disappeared into camps. Their names were extinguished and they were treated only as numbers. Not only in the concentration camps but already in the prisons of the Gestapo prisoners were separated and divided into various groups, such as by the "Sonderaktion Polnische Heimatarmee" (Polish Home Army Special Operation), the "Sonderaktion Action Catholique" (Catholic Action Special Operation) or the operation called "Arbeitsscheues Reich" (Work-shy Reich). The individual groups were then marked in the camps with the sign-system "Identity marks for prisoners in the concentration camps", using 23 stripes and marks. This sign system was, therefore, an instrument for uniformity and de-individualisation, as well as isolation and control.

I have selected 19 stripe markings as the basis of my project. They are interpreted, processed and transferred to a uniform paper size of 19 3/4 in. In the exhibition space they are hung in rows. The paper background has a grey-blue translucent stripy pattern as a reminder of prison clothing. Against this background are the marks in their original colours.

With my exhibition project for the Langenstein-Zwieberge Concentration Camp Memorial I want to recall the many different people from Germany and Europe who spent the worst and most inhumane period of their lives here. They were robbed of their individuality and personality by the despotism of the fascist tyranny. But thanks to the research work of the memorial institutions, a face, a name and a life story can be assigned to many of the "numbers". The destinies of these individuals, and consequently recent German and European history, can be traced here, as in many other places in Germany and Europe. In such places we can experience and understand history. We must not close our eyes to the past, if we want to shape our future together.

Johannes Senf                                                                                                                                                                                         Cologne 2003

                                                                                                                    Translation from German by the translation office Denzig Cologne
KENNZEICHEN FÜR KZ-HÄFTLINGE
"IDENTITY MARKS for PRISONERS in the CONCENTRATION CAMPS"
1999; Kremerpigments, acrylic, Cansonpaper; 19 parts, each 19 3/4 in.

AUSSTELLUNG KZ LANGENSTEIN
NACH OBEN