Stuke on Sebald's Austerlitz

The Wapping Project
Oct 10, 2013 1:07PM

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, which takes him from mid-20th century mitte-Europa to contemporary England.  

Stuke, an accomplished photographer in the use of the pin-hole camera, followed this journey, cross-referencing information from the book with maps and records. At the crossroad between fact and fiction, she found when they existed, the places of Austerlitz’s story: the exhibition centre in Prague 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 Sebald’s 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.  The visitor is therein an active viewer and listener, delving into the darkest corners of Austerlitz’s memory, and of Europe’s recent history. 

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