Bettina Lockemann, Elisabeth Neudörfl

Plan


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About 'Plan' project: "(...) When I started doing photography, I was interested in the question of place and what a photograph could show about a certain idea of place. I had been discussing this with my friend Elisabeth Neudoerfl. In the early 90s, there was a discussion going on about the Holocaust memorial that was supposed to be built in Berlin, which, as you know, has since been done by Peter Eisenman. And there were different ideas about how we, in Germany, as Germans, should commemorate the Holocaust, not only in the specific locations where acts of violence took place, but also in the newly rebuilt capital of Berlin. One notion was to create a major memorial in the center of Berlin. We took part in the discussion but we were not in favor of this kind of memorial, because we thought that this would end up being a tourist destination, a place where politicians would go on certain dates and give memorial speeches, a place whose real meaning would be easily forgotten.
There was a competition for this major memorial and artists sent in their ideas and those ideas were discussed. But so many places in Berlin were important to the conception of what eventually became the Holocaust.  Why couldn’t we go to those places and have memory implemented into the fabric of the city and not just in one spot? How would we be able to commemorate the Holocaust in a different way?

We thought about a photographic project. There are so many locations relevant to the Holocaust from the viewpoint of the perpetrators. We were discussing how to render visible the locations of the perpetrators and not of their victims. We started doing a lot of research on government agencies and ministries that were involved, on places where Jewish people were forced to move, of the Wannsee Conference, where the idea was born to kill the entire Jewish population of Europe, and we decided to take one month to go and photograph these locations. Of course, some locations we knew before and some were unfamiliar. For us it was important not to have specific symbolic visuality—like the train tracks going to the Auschwitz gate, or commemorative plaques and sculptures. We thought that it would be important to show the mundaneness of these locations; if you don’t know, you don’t see anything and you won’t notice that you are walking through an environment where all these ideas were generated or carried out.

When we looked at the pictures we were really amazed that in some locations we took the same picture. When thinking about how to present these pictures we immediately thought of a book. In the book it was really important not to have captions—just to show the images and state the addresses. When you have captions naming particular places people will always say: “Oh yes, I can see something has happened there; I can see that in that picture.” People will start to use that picture as a piece of information. We didn’t want that. There is a page in the back of the book listing the addresses and what happened at each location. For example, a Synagogue where the stolen material objects were kept or a place where people were gathered before they were put on the train to Auschwitz." (B.L.)

"Erinnern und Gedenken an den Holocaust sind nach wie vor hochaktuelle Themen, die sich im Umgang als wenig konsensfähig erwiesen haben. Das Künstlerbuch PLAN, entstanden 1996, widmet sich diesem Thema in einer dokumentarisch fotografischen Arbeitsweise. Bettina Lockemann und Elisabeth Neudörfl (Jahrgang 71 und 68) haben sich anlässlich der Berliner Mahnmalsdiskussion mit Fragen nach dem Sinn eines zentralen Gedenkens beschäftigt. Es schien geradezu notwendig, sich mit den historischen Gegebenheiten in einem alltäglichen Kontext der eigenen Stadt zu konfrontieren, da in Berlin, der Hauptstadt der NS-Diktatur, fast alle Ebenen von der Ausgrenzung bis hin zur Vernichtung der jüdischen Bevölkerung durch authentische Orte vertreten sind." (B.L.)