Numerology (Zähler/Nenner)

Beate Passow  
Pre-festival event

Exhibition opening Cankarjev dom, Mala galerija

These fragments I have shored against my ruins ...  T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

In some other place, that is, in is famous poem entitled Poem, T.S. Eliot asks simple questions: "Do you know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember nothing?" Both fragments offer possible answers to questions connected with the creation of Beate Passow. The signs of memory are not merely traces of the past in the fog of a world which is levelling, but scars, still open wounds that concern us in all their directness and incontestability. Beate Passow collected such signs in her book entitled "Zahler/Nenner"(Numerator/ Nenominator). In it there are photographs of the forearms of old people which, besides biological traces left on the skin by life, also have biographical signs on them which marked  them indelibly, as though by "The mark  of Cain". The managers of Auschwitz  concentration camp clearly stamped their victims with subcutaneous tattoos. Multi­coloured triangles on the clothes and yellow Jewish stars belong among the rough patterns used by Jews to legitimate themselves in the dark system of nationalsocialism. In its directness and indelibility body labelling is the worst kind of humiliation.  The human being mistreated as a number in a procedure, as a predictable extension, where only numerators and denominators are important. The wounds of memory may be less suitable for a theoretical contemplation on nationalsocialism and its destructive crimes, as on "the original sin" of stamping a human being with a sign similar to bar codes. A human being becomes a useless product Beate Passow and Andreas von Weizsacker preserve the images war invalids and demolished buildings from oblivion. The yellow star that Jewish people had to wear from 1938 onwards and the striped clothes of concentration camp prisoners are used by Beate Passow in an always new context, partly as photographs which through a shift in content, she transforms into unusual images.In this large work consisting of 86 photographs Beate Passow had personally to face all individuals who gave her the photograph. Men and women can be sensed here in all their individuality. Completely different people with different temperaments and characters that have one thing in common: they are all stamped. The author tries to avoid monumentality and, with the shameful power of a reminder and memory, she thus leaves an even stronger impact on the observer.

Helmut Friedel (excerpts)

From 1969 to 1975 Beate Passow studied at the Academy of Fine Arts under prof. Mac Zimmermann in Munich, where she still lives and works today. 

Beate  Passow - Numerologija - Cankarjev dom, Mala galerija, Ljubljana - 8.10. - 26.10.1997 - Tue.-Sat.:10.00-19.00, Sunday: 10.00-14.00

Organised by: Cankarjev dom, in collaboration with: Mesto žensk / City of Women 

Date and time of event: 
Oct 08th 20:00
Place of event: 
Cankarjev dom, Mala galerija (pre-festival event)