doingword.com

SALLE DES PAS PERDUS

Antwerp station
Antwerp station – the meeting of Austerlitz and the narrator


installation view Austerlitz
Installation view, The Wapping Project, London, 2013


SALLE DES PAS PERDUS – The Life of Jacques Austerlitz

(After Sebald’s Austerlitz)

The installation which includes monumental pinhole camera photographs taken in the book’s key locations, a metaphorical railway line and Jewish actors reading the novel is created by Stuke in collaboration with The Wapping Project’s curator Jules Wright. The commissioning of a German artist to respond to a work which deals with the Nazi oppression of Jews is not lost on Karen Stuke for whom the process has been often difficult and painful.

Austerlitz is one of literature’s most haunting meditation on time, loss and retrieval. It tells the story of Jacques Austerlitz, an architectural historian who, aged 5, was sent to England on a Kindertransport and placed with foster parents in Wales. As he rediscovers his past, Austerlitz embarks on a journey through time and space, from mid-20th-century Mitte-Europa to contemporary England.

Stuke, an accomplished photographer in the use of the pin-hole camera, followed this journey. At the crossroad between fact and fiction, she found when they existed, the places of Austerlitz’s story: the Prague exhibition halls from which his mother was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, the railway journey followed by the Kindertransport, his house in Mile End…

The resulting photographs, all taken with her handcrafted pin-hole camera, are the work of light, time and memory. Elusive images created by aggregated traces of light, they evoke fuzzy memories, and justly lend themselves to both, the layers and recesses of Austerlitz’ mind, and Sebalds’ narrative. Pursuing her interest in bringing together visual art and performance, Stuke has also devised, in collaboration with Jules Wright, a large-scale installation that brings key elements from the book into a reality where the visitor is an active viewer and listener, delving into the darkest corners of Austerlitz’s memory, and of Europe’s recent history.


St. Clemens Hospital © Karen Stuke
St. Clemens Hospital, London, Austerlitz nervous breakdown


Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park © Karen Stuke
Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, the beginning of his memory


Alderny_street-road
Alderney Road, London


Mile End Road © Karen Stuke
Mile End Road, London


London walks © Karen Stuke
London Walks


jewish cemetery © Karen Stuke
jewish cemetery, Alderney Road


Prague station © Karen stuke
Wilsonovo nádraží, Prague’s main station from where the Kindertransports departed


via germany © Karen Stuke
the journey via Germany


Journey
the journey


England © Karen Stuke
first view of England


England_journey
leaving Harwich – passing Manningtree – heading towards London


green England © Karen Stuke
journey through England


Liverpool_street_station
Liverpool Street Station, London


Wales_bala_rectory
the old rectory, Wales


Wales_bala_church
church in Bala, Wales


Sporkova No 12 © Karen Stuke
Sporkova No.12, Prague


Stairs © Karen Stuke
home in Prague


Bed © Karen Stuke
home in Prague


Exhibition_hall
Before each deportation to Theresienstadt, the families involved had to assemble in the barbed-wire area established at the
Trade Fair Grounds near Stromovka Park.


Park © Karen Stuke
Stromovka Park, Prague, which Austerlitz’s mother loved so much


Holosovice © Karen Stuke
Holešovice station, Prague, from where his mother was deported to Theresienstadt


Therezien
Theresienstadt


women+kids © Karen Stuke


Names © Karen Stuke
70.000 names of murdered Jews in the Pinkas Synagogue, Prague


Paris_searching_father
off to France to find his father…


installation view Austerlitz © Karen Stuke
Installation view, The Wapping Project, London, 2013


installation_view_
Installation view, The Wapping Project, London, 2013