THE PICTURE CHAMBER OF BRUNO SCHULZ
A VIDEOINSTALLATION BY BENJAMIN GEISSLER
26. June – 09. September 2012
From Juni to September 2012 Sammlung Falckenberg at Deichtorhallen in Harburg, nr. Hamburg will be presenting a video installation by Hamburg filmmaker Benjamin Geissler. It uses filmic projections to completely reconstruct for the first time the wall murals painted by the famous Polish author, philosopher and painter, who was murdered by the Nazis in 1942.
A Polish Jew, Bruno Schulz was born in 1892 in the town of Drohobych in Galicia, where he grew up. His literary oeuvre includes the book “The Street of Crocodiles” as well as countless short stories. Today, Bruno Schulz is widely considered one of the most important Polish authors of the 20th century. His works have been translated into over 30 languages and has influenced countless contemporary writers, such as Jonathan Safran Foer, David Grossmann, Isaac Bashevis Singer and John Updike.
After the Nazis occupied Drohobych in 1942, Bruno Schulz was made the “personal Jew” of SS Hauptscharführer Felix Landau and the latter’s lover. On Landau’s behalf, Schulz catalogued plundered works, produced drawings and inlay work. Landau ensured Schulz was protected for a time. He also was commissioned to paint murals on the walls of the villa Landau had confiscated, specifically for the Gestapo officer’s two children.
In the purportedly fairytale themes Schulz also reflected on his own situation, creating figures that were mythical and exotic and yet based on real persons, such as his mother, his friends, Landau as lord of the house, and Landau’s lover. Initially, his work as an artist spared Schulz being killed, but on 1942 he was suddenly shot and killed by another Gestapo office while out on the street.
The chamber of paintings created by Bruno Schulz in 1942 during the German occupation was discovered by Benjamin Geissler in 2001 during filming. Officials from the Yad Vashem memorial thereupon removed three fragments and took them to Israel and five additional fragments were removed from the walls by the Ukrainian authorities, destroying the complexity of the original piece.
Benjamin Geissler documented the find, the first work uncovering the murals and the destruction of the overall composition. On the basis of the footage he had taken, it proved possible to reconstruct the murals chamber true to scale as a virtual installation. On the occasion of the 120th anniversary of the birth of Bruno Schulz visitors can for the first time view the true-to-scale overall composition of a work that was for so many years lost for posterity.