GreenHill Celebrates 75th anniversary of World War II through photography exhibition
(GREENSBORO, NC) GreenHill Center for North Carolina Art presents What Remains of the Day: Memories of World War II, a solo exhibition by Chapel Hill-based photographer Gesche Würfel exploring the history and memory of World War II through landscape photography, portraiture, video and sound from September 20 – November 15, 2019.
What Remains of the Day: Memories of World War II chronicles certain of the most tragic events of World War II. Würfel, who was born in Germany and now lives in North Carolina states that she hopes her images of places and people encourage viewers “to think about how the horrors of Fascism and World War II are still relevant today.” The exhibition at GreenHill includes the newest group of images in this ongoing series, which were photographed in Normandy, France at the D-Day landing beaches. GreenHill’s Director of Artistic and Curatorial Programs, Edie Carpenter, explains, “This exhibition coincides with the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Würfel visited Normandy a year ago and several of her photographs taken there will be seen in North Carolina for the first time. Testimonies by soldiers and survivors of the conflict presented in the exhibition remind the viewer of the timeliness of this moment as we reflect on the future.”
Würfel’s photographs visualize the passage of time through the artist’s unique printing process, in which a degree of pigment is removed for each year since the end of the war. The resulting images of sites of certain of these tragic events appear to be in the process of fading before the viewer’s eyes; inspiring reflection on the permeable nature of memory. Würfel’s photographic portraits of witnesses of the war who were interviewed by the artist are presented along with ambient video recordings of their narratives. These witnesses include: Holocaust survivors, Nazi supporters, German bystanders, and allied veterans. The recorded personal histories and portraits of people, now mostly way beyond middle age, only intensify the haunted quality of the landscape images. Together they evoke questions concerning how best to preserve “history, memory and what is left behind.” Visitors’ immersion in these meditations is reinforced by the video installation Below Forest (2017) visualizing the forest 110 miles northwest of Berlin, where 16,000 prisoners from the concentration camp Sachsenhausen and its sub-camps were forced to camp during the death marches between April 23 and 29, 1945 before being freed by the Red Army.
Gesche Würfel states that “Since having moved to North Carolina a new wave of artists has inspired my work, mainly due to a change in topics as I have started focusing on history, archives, and race. In particular Christian Boltanski, Anselm Kiefer, and Kara Walker are of interest to me in how they deal with history, the legacy of the Holocaust and slavery, and the way they work with and create archives.” Oppressive Architecture, a photographic installation previously presented at CAM that explores the relationship between architecture and oppression during the historical eras of American slavery and German Nazism will also be on view at GreenHill. By investigating photography’s ability to fix truth, Würfel draws special attention to current societal debates on the ways information may the obscured or manipulated. Situated between art and documentary, Würfel’s photographic practice posits memory as a central force in man’s shared humanity and holds a new lens up to the past to better understand the present.
Gesche Würfel is a contemporary visual artist and Teaching Assistant Professor of Photography at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received an MFA in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s degree in Photography and Urban Cultures from Goldsmiths, University of London, UK, and her diploma in Spatial Planning from the Technical University Dortmund, Germany. Her work has been exhibited, published, and awarded internationally; exhibition venues include the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) Raleigh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tate Modern, Goldsmiths, University of London, Cornerhouse Manchester, Kokerei Zollverein. Most recently, she has had solo exhibitions of her “Oppressive Architecture” project at the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, NC and the Heavy Load-Bearing Body (Schwerbelastungskörper) in Berlin, Germany. Würfel is the author of Basement Sanctuaries (Schilt Publishing 2014). She is a recipient of grants from Urban Buzz (HEFCE), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) and others. Würfel was named as the Juror’s Pick for the LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards 2016 and is a finalist in the Lange-Taylor Award.
Gesche Würfel: What Remains of the Day – Memories of World War II was organized by Amy Bowman-McElhone, Chief Curator of Art, UWF Pensacola Museum of Art, Pensacola, Florida.
What Remains of the Day: Memories of World War II is sponsored by Wells Fargo and Greensboro Jewish Federation and Printery.
For more information visit www.greenhillnc.org/what-remains-of-the-day.