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Ground Radar.

BRANTHWAITE, Michael (2019) Ground Radar. [Artefact]

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Abstract or description

“Ground Radar” responds to the complicity of camp guards in the mass murder of the European Jewry that remains a taboo topic at Westerbork in The Netherlands, a German-Jewish refugee camp that became a transit camp from where c. 107,000 Jews and 275 Roma were transported to the extermination camps (IC-ACCESS 2016; USHMM 2019). The site also has a complex afterlife as it became temporary accommodation for Moluccan Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) soldiers and their families before being transformed by the presence of radio telescopes after 1970 (IC-ACCESS 2016). Hence, as Dolghin et al (2017: 34-35) have shown: ‘despite the solemn intention of its symbolic topography, memories attached to the site continue to evince divergent affective responses: while for the former inmates of the camp and their relatives “Westerbork” represents a reminder of suffering, for members of the Moluccan community, forced out of their homeland and later out of their ‘kampung’ on the empty moors of Drenthe, “Schattenberg” articulates a tragic memory of loss’. Archaeological work at the site including laser scanning the Camp Commandant’s house, which survives intact, and carrying out a non-invasive topographic and geophysical survey in the grounds of Heidelager (a camp which first housed German-Jewish refugees and then members of the SS, the Dutch Military Police and Dutch Police Battalion who assisted the Nazis at the camp and beyond) (Gerstenfeld 2019). The artwork responds to these themes using video footage of Westerbork mixed with several primary sources to create a video collage of remnants, reconstructions and material culture from when the camp was in use and after (Figure 6, top). A divided screen acts as mimetic for the multiple functions and truths related to the site, as well as the nefarious ways some narratives have been created. The mixture of imagery also refers to the site’s fractured and incomplete nature, which comprises a few original traces and reconstructed elements indicative of the camp’s presence alongside modern interventions such as radio telescopes and dysfunctional gates and sheds (Herinneringscentrum Kamp Westerbork 2014; van der Laarse, 2018). Footage of the Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey at Heidelager camp illustrates the willingness of archaeologists to find and identify where buildings once stood, and forefront contested histories.

Item Type: Artefact
Faculty: School of Creative Arts and Engineering > Art and Design
Depositing User: Michael SAFARIC BRANTHWAITE
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2020 15:14
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:58

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