Tuesday, 14 February 2017

February 15th post

The past four weeks were busy with renovating my new studio and with moving, and writing parts of my paper, but I also got to do / am working on the following:

My video

I have good news, 

I had submitted my video for the Future Imperfect conference at Plymouth University and I was just notified that is has been selected to be shown there in the cinema at the symposium and I have been invited to speak about my work and to contextualize the video.

I am just about to edit the video from 18:30 min to 15 min

Interview with Fred Terna

In the past two weeks I wrote a 13 page transcript of the interview I had done with Holocaust survivor Fred Terna in Brooklyn on my last day in New York. The visit with Fred was very inspiring and the time we spent on that sunny cold afternoon in his house in Brooklyn was just wonderful. Raul Barcelona had kindly offered to do the filming of the interview since I did not have any filming equipment with me in New York.

Fred is a painter (!)  and he kindly showed us all his work. He paints fire!! His work (which we also saw in an exhibition in Brooklyn before we met Fred) is fantastic. We spent a wonderful time and it was really great to meet and get to know Fred, what a very interesting man. I selected three excerpts that I will be putting together as one video for my installation of my first year project (together with the 3 other videos which I will create out of my Black Milk of Daybreak Video).

Here are the three excerpts which I will put together to one video (overlaying parts of it with his paintings) during the next weeks:

Out of the time and one hour interview with Fred, for me this sentence stands out the most:

(My question :  Fred, If you think about your legacy, Fred, if you had a chance to talk to the coming       generations… to the people that come after us, what message would you like to give to them?)

Fred Terna : 

Be involved. Be involved. 
The lessons that I have learned, during the war and of – since the war is, what counts - to live in a sensible, fair and open community where we are all responsible for each other. Be involved. That is what I would tell them. 
I am not telling them how to do what. But you cannot just stand back and say, it’s them. I have nothing to do with it. In a sense, saying, this is what is accused of Central Europeans, Germans, Austrians, they weren’t involved. 
 So, that is the message I would try to convey to them. And say, is this paid for? It is difficult. It means a lot of introspection. And learning. 

Essay for Art Avenue
I was asked by the Federation of Canadian Artists art magazine ART AVENUE if I could please write an article about my current paintings, so I wrote the following essay: (which they edited and shortened a little bit, but it will now look like this now): I also mentioned Transart Institute!

Painting in the Life of…
A recurring article chronicling the life of a painting

By Ira Hoffecker

I was born in Germany, and my work talks about the experiences of those living there, and the different identities that locations in that country take on over a period of time. Maps, therefore, have been a prominent influence.

With the four new paintings shown here, I have started to move away from my usual method of overlaying two or more maps. And in addition to demonstrating how one place can have two different identities, I have become very interested in exploring the process of abstract painting. Therefore, my compositions are looser, which offers an element of ambiguity. I am attempting to add either “structure to the chaos” or “chaos to the order” of the maps and new structural elements that are used.

I had begun these painting with several layers of paint and a map as I usually do, but now, instead of overlaying only the map, I include a structure such as a building. The building image unfolding here depicts the factory that now stands where the forced labour camp, Lager Moschendorf, once was. During WWII, the camp was located in the Moschendorf district of the town of Hof (Saale), which is the subject matter in my recent work.

The viewer can still recognize the original map underneath, but there is an additional element in the work. Before, my concern was merely about the meaning of the work. But now this new series of large paintings are also about the process of painting, the rules and elements of abstraction, and about composition, eye movement and colour.

My work has always been informed by the urban environment; I have always been interested in how different societies transform and change city spaces over the course of centuries. My work examines the relationships between people and cities that respond to constant change, reconstruction and restoration within the urban landscape.

More recently, however, I have wanted to examine our German past — both personally remembering and collective memory. I want to work against forgetting and against suppressing the memory of the past. For example, in a recent photographic series about genocide, I asked, “What would I have done if I had lived under the National Socialist regime?” I feel that this is still a relevant theme of our time, and it is important to remember to “stand up and speak up,” and not simply be a bystander.

Other exciting changes are occurring within my art work. I recently began working on my Master of Fine Art degree at the Transart Institute accredited through Plymouth University, England. And in addition to painting, I am working with video, photography and sound. For my written work, I am researching contemporary artists who investigated identity after WWII and after the wall came down in 1989: Christian Boltanski, Susan Hiller and Shimon Attie.

View more of Ira’s work at www.irahoffecker.com
Ira Hoffecker, AFC, has had recent solo exhibitions in Oxford, England, Berlin and Hof, Germany, Vancouver and Edmonton. Ira was one of 20 UK graduates whose work was shortlisted for the Graduate Art Prize 2015 in London. She won first prize in the “Abstract Show 2015” in Vancouver with her painting Alexanderplatz VIII. Her Camp Moschendorf II painting has been shortlisted for the John Moore Painting Prize 2016, and has been exhibited at the 2016 Liverpool Biennial. Ira resides in Victoria.
·      Structure I (36 x36), Acrylic on canvas and wood panel
·      Structure III (40 by 60), Acrylic on birch wood panel
·      Structure V (40 by 60), Arcrylic on birch wood panel
·      Structure V (46 x 46), Acrylic on canvas

Donation/ Raising Funds for MS

A couple of times a year I am donating a painting to raise money. I am proud to say that my painting Lightness of Being raised $3500 at the recent Vigsa MS Event here in Victoria. You can tell that the painting is not recent. I created it about 3 years ago.


Since I was unable to paint for the past 4 weeks I have been doing some drawings and sketchbook doodles. I am experimenting to draw with my left hand, combining text and maps : figuring out possible compositions for paintings

Crit group/ Skype

Yes, I am taking an 8 week break from the crit group, I am working extremely hard, but I also had to renovate studios and write the transcript of the interview with Fred and write my paper and felt I would not be a good member of the group if I cannot dedicate at least a day each to respond to other people's work, just missing the first round of feedbacks. I just want it to be fair to the others too. I still look at other peoples work and have given some individual feedback. Also I very much prefer to Skype with people than to write and write feedback, so I have skyped with Bill and Andrea last week, we are thinking about collaborations.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Winter Residency: Material to review - please review this if you do not have time to go through all Dec15/Nov15/Oct15 blog posts

Hi all,
if you do not have time to go through all my three process blogs from December 15th, November 15th and October 15th, I would like to ask you to have a look at a video I created recently.

as you know I am investigating the different identities certain places have over time and in the past I have layered maps on top of each other in my paintings. My first year project was a sound piece in which I had wanted to put together the following 5 different loops:

-voices of right wing extremists demonstrating every Monday in Dresden against Germany accepting refugees from Syria

and juxtapose those to these four sound loops
-my voice reading Paul Celan's Todesfuge, a poem about the genocide by a Holocaust survivor
- Hitler's voice
- voices of the Nazi's at the Wannsee Conference (where the Holocaust was decided)
- the voice of Dr. peter Gary, a Holocaust Survivor

Once I had put all of these together and edited my interview with Dr. Peter Gary, I wondered if I should not go one step further and create a video.

I want to project the experiences of the past (using my own voice (reading poets who are Holocaust survivors) or Dr. Peter Gary's voice) on images of burning refugee homes of today or on images of the destroyed cities of Aleppo and Homs.

Not only containing these above, but also the voice of a Syrian regufee, Fareed, who's family I have been trying to get to Canada (his wife and children are in a refugee camp in Turkey) and the situation in Syria.

So here is the video and the explanation for it that I had on my Nov 15 blog. Please be so kind and see the video. Thank you.

I have sounds of Hitler’s speech and the interview I did with the Holocaust survivor, yet I wanted in my juxtaposition of Holocaust experiences also show images of right wing extremists demonstrating in Dresden’s streets. Since these new right wing extremists are now fighting against refugees from Syria to come to Germany, I had the idea to interweave an interview I had done with a refugee from Syria in Berlin in the spring of this year and show images of Syria and the war. 

Including the two-minute credit lines with some background information, the film is now 18:32 long.

What I am doing here and want to explore
Is to juxtapose experiences of the Holocaust to current events: Nazis and extreme right wing people in Germany protesting against accepting refugees of Germany. Show the situation in Syria of the refuges who came to our country. So I want to show newly arisen hate against foreigners, this time against Muslims in Germany and weave images and voices from our German Nazi past into those current experiences. Due to those new right wing extremists coming up in Germany, the authorities changed the law last year and it is not possible anymore for war refugees from Syria to bring their families. The two poems I am reading (in German) are reflecting on war and on the Holocaust. 

So this is not a public Tv documentary but since I am a MFA student, I am allowing myself certain liberties, such as for example overlaying the sound of a poem that talks about the one genocide, over images of a different war. But as we know, this is not only a civil war, also several ethnic minority groups are being oppressed and killed in Syria. So I do that deliberately. 

I have had some feedback from Derek, Malvina, Gabrielle, Kayoko, and Jay. By some it was suggested that I put the translated text of the poems as subtitles in the video, but I have decided against it, because I want the images to speak. During my workshops in the summer Jean-Marie encouraged me to work with my voice, so I used it a couple of times (in German) in those films. I am reading poems by Holocaust survivors Primo Levi and Paul Celan. 

Also it was suggested that I do not put subtitles over Fareed’s voice, but several people said they cannot understand what he is saying, so I thought it is better to put subtitles.

Material I have been working with:
-       I did an interview Fareed Abd Albaki, Refugee from Homs, Syria, in Berlin 2016
-       I did an interview with Dr. Peter Gary, Holocaust survivor, 1923-2016, you hear his voice in the film
- otherwise I used material I found on u-tube, but I am mentioning all of them in the end of the film

In between you hear the voice of Adolf Hitler, I am playing excerpts of his infamous ‘prophecy’ speech from January 1939 in which he openly announced that the Jewry of Europe will eventually be destroyed. (this is interesting because so many Germans after the war said they had no clue what was going on in the camps and didn’t know where Jewish people were taken and what was happening to them). 

The first setting in my video is the destroyed city of Homs in Syria, which I am juxtaposing to a sound piece I created.  I am reciting the poem Todesfuge (death fugue) by Holocaust survivor Paul Celan. In the poem which is full of metaphors, he describes life in a concentration camp in the face of death. The sound piece is a collaboration with NY composer Concetta Abbate. 

The next scene is at the closed border of Macedonia in the spring 2016 where solders are shooting at refugees. The rest of the film so far is, I think, self explanatory…..

So here is the piece https://vimeo.com/197113022, the password is ti16

It is important that you watch it in the biggest possible format, if you can listen to it via a headset, it would be even better.....