Producing a synoptic portrait with Yehuda Bacon

The foundational principles of the method “synoptic portraits” are developed out of a series of biographical video-portraits from Friedemann Derschmidt’s artwork between the years 2008-2019. Out of a growing interest in the interactional character of these lifestories, Derschmidt began to approach them experimentally from an increasing amount of angles: With Ilana Shmueli (A 2012 Phantom der Erinnerung – Kurt Mayer Film / Diagonalepreis 2013) retelling the same episode time and again to reflect on the quality and nature of memory rather than treating it as a mere accumulation of historical facts that need to be salvaged from the abyss of oblivion; with Sally Perel by conducting with him eight interviews in the four languages attached to the different identities in which he lived and managed to survive in Nazi-controlled Europe (Jüdisches Museum Wien, Van Leer Institute Jerusalem, Art Academy Warsaw, Archive of the  Volkswagen concern). These case studies of narrative exploration and reflection, which Derschmidt chose to term “synoptic portraits”, represent different approaches to the same questions: What insights can we gain from a critical reflection on the differences that become evident between every two versions of “the same”story from one’s memory? How are these differences related to the “roles” assumed by the narrators in relation to their respective listener? That is, how do factors such as age/generation, gender, cultural background and language contribute to the creation of specific conversational spaces and to what effect? How does the listener influence the narrative by his/her way of listening, asking, responding, and how does the story produced transform the way the researcher understands him/herself? How do listener create a story that is told in fragments through imaginative reconstruction (Welzer 2002: 18-43)?  How do frequent retellings of certain episodes (e.g. through frequent visits to school classes) lead to a canonisation process of one’s own life-story and how can this canonisation be questioned and re-viewed through the process of “synoptic portraits”?

In the second phase of the upcoming project “stories of a life” (Derschmidt, Schneider, Wildner, Merle, Bacon) Friedemann Derschmidt will continue to develop and implement his method of “synoptic portraits” with the Israeli artist Yehuda Bacon. Due to their advanced age, the recordings have already been done already in the prephase of the project in May 2019. Yehuda Bacon was born in Czechoslovakia in 1929. He survived multiple Nazi death camps and immigrated to Israel after the war in 1946. He gave testimonies in both the Eichmann trial and the Auschwitz trials and was interviewed several times by Yad Vashem. Yehuda Bacon was talking to six particular people in 3 different languages. In each language he was talking once to a woman, and once to a man. In total there have been recorded six talks (approx. 480 minutes in total) – 2 in German, 2 in Hebrew, and 2 in Czech lanuage.

The interviewers have been:

Yochi Fischer (hebrew “female” talk) on 15.05.2019 Jerusalem

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Yochi Fischer and Yehuda Bacon

Anna Derschmidt (german “female” talk) on 15.05.2019 Jerusalem

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Anna Derschmidt and Yehuda Bacon

Abbé Libansky (czech “male” tak) on 17.05.2019 Jerusalem

Abbe´Libansky and Yehuda Bacon

Natascha Dudinsky (czech “female” talk) on 19.05.2019 Jerusalem

Natasha_Dudinsky-Yehuda_Bacon
Natasha Dudinsky and Yehuda Bacon

Thomas Freiler (german “male” talk) on 20.05.2019 Jerusalem

Thomas_Freiler-Yehuda_Bacon
Thomas Freiler and Yehuda Bacon

Haim Ben Shitrit (hebrew “male” talk) on 20.05.2019 Jerusalem

Haim_BenShitrit-Yehuda_Bacon
Haim BenShitrit and Yehuda Bacon

THE VIDEO THAT IS SHOWN BELOW IS ONLY A SCETCH TO GIVE AN IMPRESSION OF THE CONCEPT – it does not represent the artwork itself! IN ORDER TO WATCH IT, PLEASE SEND ME AN EMAIL REQUEST FOR THE PASSWORD.

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