Sharon Paz’s Dare to Dream is an interactive video installation that positions the viewer between reality and fiction. Based on research about the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, the work is dedicated to two women: the German-Jewish high jumper Gretel Bergmann and Leni Riefenstahl, producer of propaganda films during the Nazi era. Paz transfers their stories with fictional characters into the present. The visitor can actively participate in the development of different storylines through choosing different response options offered by the interactive video. This also raises the question of who has the hegemony over historiography and the culture of memory.
For the installation Pitshipoy, Elianna Renner followed the trail of the word Pitshipoy, which originated in Yiddish folklore and describes an imaginary space. The research grapples with the different histories, translations, and interpretations of the word. During the Shoah, Pitshipoy experienced the highpoint of its popularity in the transit camp Drancy in France. There, the term described an unknown and imaginary (safe)space that filled the vacuum of hope to the gates of Auschwitz. The installation combines text, film, and audio recordings that present fragments of the research on the term. The centerpiece is the video documentation of an air performance in which a pilot makes a banner with Pitshipoy appear in the sky above Berlin.
The works gesture towards how cultural memory and official historiography produce (un)avoidable gaps, which reveal the construction of history(ies) in general. Both works connect the real with the imaginary and refer to the power that this connection has over our unconscious. They function as times machines that collapse the past and present. In doing so, they create other narratives that elude clear attributions and transform the reception of the work into an active experience and questioning of one’s own perceptions and hegemonic narratives.
The exhibition makes doubts about fragile truths tangible when considered in light of increasing right-wing movements and conspiracy theories, which have been and will continue to be stoked through the Corona virus pandemic, as well as the experience of “Post-Truth” Politics. The exhibition therefore refers to the balancing act between a critical engagement with hegemonic narratives and the sensitive, but also emancipatory handling of the blank spaces in the writing of history on one hand and, on the other hand, the drift towards reactionary historical falsification undertaken by right-wing ideas, conspiracy theories, and myths.