Ghosts: French Holocaust Children

Ghosts: French Holocaust Children

Ghosts: French Holocaust Children

Thomas J. Walsh Gallery

January 24 – March 2, 2019

During World War II, over 11,000 Jewish children were deported from France to Nazi death camps. These children were among more than 75,000 French Jews deported under the Nazi plan for the “Final Solution to the Jewish question.” Of those French Jews transported, only 2,564 survived the Shoah. At most 300 of these Jewish children survived.

Ghosts: French Holocaust Children is an installation of sculptural and photographic work by Robert Hirsch and Hirsch Projects. This three-dimensional installation acts as an ethereal commemoration to these children’s abbreviated lives. The project was created based on documents and photographs collected by author, lawyer, and Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld that have been reinterpreted and presented in the form of three 1/5-scale boxcars containing over 600 expressionistic portraits of these deported children, plus a series of mural-sized individual portraits.

Ghosts’ post-documentary approach transforms archival material by blending outer and inner realities to construct a historic media narrative that examines the extreme boundaries of human behavior regarding anti-Semitism, identity, loss, memory, and racism, conveying a haunting sense of lost human possibilities.

The project further explores the space between art and history from the position that all accounts of historic events are personal constructions. It makes a case that contemplative picturemaking can imagine the unimaginable. This encourages viewers to foster different ways of understanding the Holocaust (genocide) that cannot be achieved through traditional documentary photography, encouraging both critical thinking and empathy.

This Hirsch Projects exhibition is the result of collaboration among Robert Hirsch, Bob Collignon, Richard Schulenberg, Anne Muntges, and Serge Klarsfeld.

This exhibition is presented with support from the Humanities Institute of Fairfield University, and the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies.