Ghosts: French Holocaust Children by Hirsch Projects
Ghosts: French Holocaust Children is a three-dimensional installation that acts as an ethereal commemoration to these children’s abbreviated lives. This project is based on documents and photographs collected by author, lawyer, and Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld that have been reinterpreted and presented in the form of three 1/5-scale boxcars containing over 600 expressionistic portraits of these deported children plus a series of mural sized individual portraits.
During World War II, over 11,000 Jewish children were deported from France to Nazi death camps. These children were among more than 75,000 French Jews deported under the Nazi plan for the “Final Solution to the Jewish question.” Of those French Jews transported, only 2,564 survived the Shoah. At most 300 of these Jewish children survived.
Ghosts’ post-documentary approach transforms archival material by blending outer and inner realities to construct a historic media narrative that examines the extreme boundaries of human behavior regarding anti-Semitism, identity, loss, and memory, and racism, conveying a haunting sense of lost human possibilities.
The project further explores the space between art and history from the position that all accounts of historic events are personal constructions. It makes a case that contemplative picturemaking can imagine the unimaginable. This encourages viewers to foster different ways of understanding the Holocaust (genocide) that cannot be achieved through traditional documentary photography, encouraging both critical thinking and empathy.
This Hirsch Projects exhibition is the result of collaboration among Robert Hirsch, Bob Collignon, Richard Schulenberg, Anne Muntges, and Serge Klarsfeld.