Esther Shalev-Gerz at Kazerne Dossin


The Human Aspect of Objects

Newtopia is pleased to present the installation of Esther Shalev-Gerz, especially planned to coincide with the opening of the Kazerne Dossin. As an exhibition dedicated to exploring the subject of human rights, Newtopia presents a work that has special resonance and is particularly relevant for the Kazerne Dossin, a museum dedicated both to the holocaust and human rights. Shalev-Gerz has become internationally known for her work investigating the nature of democracy, citizenship, cultural memory and spatial politics. Her installations, photography, video and public sculpture are developed through active dialogue, consultation and negotiation with people whose participation provides an emphasis to their individual and collective memories, accounts, opinions and experiences which then become both represented and considered.

For the presentation of Newtopia at Kazerne Dossin Shalev-Gerz will present a video installation work entitled MenschenDinge, which centres on objects made by inmates at Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Invited to create a project especially for the Buchenwald Concentration Camp Memorial, Esther Shalev- Gerz recorded museum professionals – the director, a historian, an archaeologist, a female restorer, and a female photographer: people who are in daily contact with the objects that were found in the grounds of the camp after liberation. The five individuals recount their encounters – professional, personal, and imaginary – with these objects created or diverted by the prisoners, which attest to their ability to resist the inhuman conditions that were inflicted on them.

Born in Lithuania, Esther Shalev-Gerz grew up in Israel, and lives in Paris since 1984. For more than twenty years she has been developing work centered on questions associated with the construction of memory, whether personal or collective. Her reinterpretation of history is firmly anchored in the present of her protagonists: The majority of her works are created in dialogue with people – be they the inhabitants of a specific place, or the witnesses of a particular event. Thus the past is always interpreted through the present of those who remember it, or work with its relics. Through different stories, in the gap between listening and telling, and by means of her installations, Esther Shalev-Gerz creates new spaces to tackle the questions of recollection, memory, bearing witness, and our relationship to history. Constantly inquiring into transitional qualities of time and space and the correlative transformation of identities, locales and (hi)stories Esther Shalev-Gerz has produced a body of work that simultaneously records, critiques, and contributes to our understandings of the societal roles and value of artistic practice.

The installation can be seen from 2012-12-10 until 2013-03-31, included in the museumticket for Kazerne Dossin.

MenschenDinge – The Human Aspect of Objects, 2004-2006 (Courtesy of the artist, collection of the Buchenwald Memorial, Germany)

Installation with 5 colour videos, sound; 22 min., 14 min., 23 min., 14 min., and 12 min. respectively. More information: – –