Saturday, 25 February 2012

# 43 [4 November 2009]

Pat Weed from Kansas came to the studio today. She stumbled across the blog whilst researching the history of this area of France before her holiday to the area. She is Judeo-Christian and takes a deep interest in the Holocaust. Having read this blog she wanted to visit the camp with me which she did this afternoon.

She arrived at 1.00 with her husband and daughter. Following a good while getting to know each other better the conversation veered towards the Holocaust; as we were discussing the nature of Rivesaltes as not only a transit camp, but as a concentration camp and the implications of both names, Louis burst into the room dressed as Darth Vader, it was clearly time to start looking at my videos.

Pat asked where the images that I painted originated, so I showed her the video RQV2 and explained that my work is more evocative than descriptive, the context giving the work meaning rather than it emerging from the images. I would say that my work is 'difficult' to view/interpret if not allowing yourself to be absorbed by the ethereal sound and images on a meditative level, which they seemed to appreciate. Then we got on to the paintings.

They listened attentively as I explained how I interpreted the video-stills through using various materials in the studio. They seemed to like the work as they left with one of the new red drip paintings 'Argeles. 1.i' based on the Argeles video.

Helen dropped the children off with the grandparents and off we went to the camp. As usual wind and rain featured, but even on a sunny day the camp is grim. Following a tour of a small section of the camp we headed for the railway siding where Pat wished to place a stone from the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) which she collected earlier in the year. She handed out sheets for us to follow the Kaddish mourning prayer, which she then prayed and we all finished with an Amen, it was moving. Before we parted we went to the memorial stones to each of the peoples held at the camp for a photo opportunity.

The memorial stone for the Jews, vandalised in 2003 reads:

... Delivered to the Nazis in the Occupied Zone, by authority of the French government, deported to the extermination camp of Auschwitz and murdered because they were Jews. We will never forget these victims of racial and xenophobic hatred.

She is going to speak with a friend at the Mid-West Centre for Holocaust Education in Kansas about the work I'm doing based on the camp, so a longer-lasting link may have been formed... all due to this blog.

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