Yvette Brackman


15. Nov 11. Jan 2015

How can a sense of identity and belonging be preserved when living under or fleeing extreme social conditions? And what role do the body and memory play in processing the hereditary traumas caused by violent historical events? These are the questions at the heart of Yvette Brackman’s major solo exhibition AGIT FLIGHT, which continues her investigation of the ways social and political structures influence personal destinies.

Based on the artist’s own family history and their experience as Jews during the Soviet regime, the exhibition unfolds as a choreography charting the complex story of war, anti- Semitism, persecution and exile – but also flexibility, adaptability, transformation and mobility.

As a basis for the exhibition, in collaboration with the authors Gitte Broeng and Suzi Tucker, Brackman has written a play exhibited in newspaper format. The text is based on the futuristic opera Victory Over the Sun (1913), whose creators included Kazimir Malevich. The reference is, however, largely formal. In the rewritten version, the characters have been replaced by members of Brackman’s family, fictional witnesses and historical figures, all of them incarnating different perspectives and reactions to the events. Whereas the original opera adhered to the revolutionary, utopian ideas of the day and propagandised for a better society through severance with the past, here the implication is that the past has to be reclaimed to change the future.

In keeping with this, the exhibition takes the form of a series of staged memory spaces, that gradually move from the factually historical to the performatively therapeutic. In a series of collages, Brackman’s family history is portrayed through personal materials like photographs, text fragments, a family tree, her mother’s Communist Party scarf and pages from old school books. Parallel to this documentary track, the exhibition includes a series of sculptural works that have the character of props: A stage curtain, demonstration banners with personal statements, folding screens and costumes representing the main characters in the play, which during the exhibition will be included in performances of the text. As aesthetic objects linked to performative actions, they function both as images of and potential means to achieve the release the reconstruction of traumatic events can provide.

At a more abstract level, the threads of the exhibition are drawn together in the last room, which is dominated by a large tent-like structure. As a symbol itself, the tent generates equivocal associations of escape and adaptation, vulnerability and protection, and also provides a meditative space for reflection on the issues presented in the exhibition, which are still highly relevant in many parts of the world. But the invitation to enter the tent is also an invitation to viewers to inspect their own close relationships and personal challenges more closely: On selected days of the exhibition the tent provides the setting for a series of group therapy sessions open to interested visitors with the Danish expert on family constellations Kristina van Kampen.

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