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Giving Visual Form to Memories of the Holocaust

Artist Shimon Attie to discuss his work at Block Museum

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October 3, 2012 | by Judy Moore
Shimon Attie
Shimon Attie

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Shimon Attie has created immersive multimedia art installations from photography and video in museums as well as site-specific works that he locates in public spaces around the world. The internationally-renowned visual artist will speak on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus this fall.

Attie’s talk, “Sites Unseen,” will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive. It will be preceded by a 5:30 p.m. reception. Both the talk and reception are free and open to the public.

For the past two decades Attie’s multimedia art has reflected on the relationship between place, memory and identity. He has described some of his artwork, as “a kind of peeling back of the wallpaper of today to reveal the histories buried underneath.” In 1995 Attie created a series of temporary installations, collectively called “Sites Unseen,” addressing issues raised by the Holocaust in Europe’s urban centers. The Block Museum is exhibiting a reimagining of one of those installations -- “The Neighbor Next Door” -- through Dec. 9.

Attie will discuss these projects as well as more recent work examining Palestinian/Israeli relations during his talk at the Block Museum. His October visit to campus, which will include a gallery walk-through with Northwestern students on Oct. 12, coincides with the Block Museum’s celebrations of its Fall 2012 exhibitions.

In the Block’s “Shimon Attie: The Neighbor Next Door” exhibition, the artist has re-envisioned a work featuring archival film footage of street scenes taken clandestinely by people forced to hide from the Nazis. In 1995 Attie projected the films onto a street of the city from buildings where some individuals hid during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. In 2012 visitors to the Block Museum will view these archival images in a gallery installation that evokes the experience of watching from a confined space.

The “Shimon Attie: The Neighbor Next Door” exhibition is co-curated by David Tolchinsky and Debra Tolchinsky, faculty members of Northwestern University’s department of radio/ television/film. Support for the exhibition is provided by the Alsdorf Endowment, Rubens Family Foundation and Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Attie’s work has been presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

Two additional Block fall exhibitions -- “De-Natured: German Art from Joseph Beuys to Martin Kippenberger, Selections from the James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach Collection”and “Joseph Beuys: Sand Drawings” will also be on view to the public through Dec. 9.

Attie’s program is sponsored by the Myers Foundations; the Northwestern University departments of art history, art theory and practice, German, radio/television film; the Crown Family Center for Jewish Studies; and Fiedler Hillel.