By Lisa Wurtele
World-renowned art historian and cultural analyst Griselda Pollock visited the exhibition last month and was inspired to write about her impressions in a letter, which she addressed to Rachel Marker:
Griselda Pollock penning her letter to Rachel Marker in the gallery. Photo: Moira Roth
19 March 2013
Dear Rachel Marker,
I have heard your name before but now
I sit in an installation dedicated to showing me
the twentieth century through your eyes. Images
flow over the table where I sit, a soft voice speaking
German in the background, punctuated by 109-year-
old fingers bringing music forth from a piano.
Terrible scenes of violence, war, destruction
are playing to the sound of Alice Herz-Sommer’s
exquisite life-long coinhabitation with music.
Your letters take me on a journey through times
and spaces freighted with history, art, literature
and above all imagination. You are a subtle guide,
a thoughtful witness, a gentle presence that
makes history become vivid and troubling at the
same time. You are conscience speaking through
the twentieth century about art and artists, imagination
and writing, hope and conversation amidst
catastrophe while Rose Hacker and Alice Herz-Sommer
remind me of the fact that the twentieth century was
also one of the great centuries of and for women—
Thank you for bringing that—my constant issue—joining
of trauma and hope through women together once again.
Yours as ever Griselda
Griselda Pollock is Professor of the Social & Critical Histories of Art at the University of Leeds. Her research interests include feminist, social, queer and post-colonial interventions in the histories of art, trauma and cultural memory; representation of and after the Holocaust; 19th-century to contemporary visual arts and film. Pollock serves as Director of The Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory and History (CentreCATH): a Transdisciplinary Initiative at the University of Leeds (http://www.centrecath.leeds.ac.uk). Pollock’s recent project, Concentrationary Memories: The Politics of Representation (http://www.centrecath.leeds.ac.uk/projects/conmem/) explores configurations of politics and aesthetics in cultural memory.
Griselda Pollock in the gallery. Photo: Moira Roth