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2021 SPE Annual Conference: Imagining Legacy: Archives, Collections, and Memoria

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Ann Pegelow Kaplan

SPE Member since 2011
Member Chapter: Southeast

2017 W/SW Juried Exhibition Application Portfolio

Walking the streets of Berlin, the past and the present compete for space in my mind I consider the plights of past and current refugees. Senses anchor me to the present — the rumble of the U-Bahn, the swish of a bicycle, wafting aromas of bakeries and sewers. Yet the horrors of the Germany's past consistently enter and I ruminate on the human beings who experienced these realities. In both cases, people whom I do not personally know, specific yet anonymous.

Remnants of others are all around us, in buildings and spaces but also objects still circulating. Flea markets full of things touched by the hands and worn by the bodies of people now gone. Like photographs, these remains continue to exist after death. In portraits, the people portrayed are gone but their images remain.

My work in p a s s a g e / s juxtaposes appropriated, anonymous photographic portraits with images from a ritual walk through Berlin. Found at Berlin's flea markets and the internet, the portraits include images both of Jewish refugees attempting to flee Nazi Germany but whom ultimately were murdered and portraits of Syrians who have recently attempted to make their way to safety. I combined these portraits with photographs made in neighborhoods home to multiple historically marginalized communities, beginning at the Neue Synagogue, traveling to my home, and then continuing to a center for current refugees.

In this body of work, I visually re-contextualize remnants of portraiture, using imagery and absence to engage both the individuals pictured and the viewer. To ask them questions about who they were, elevate them, and interrogate them. This work addresses our anonymity to one another and compels conversation about our (dis)regard for one another's humanity, including during the refugee crises of the 1930s and today.

Yellow Portrait (Fehrbelliner Platz)

The Way (Schoneberg)

Passages (Museumsinsel)

Entrance (Tiergarten)

Steps (Mauerpark)

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