moving into words

Ancestral Journey : Lunar Beltane : 5 May 2012 : revisited june 26 2020

I made this video-poem during the period I was a member of the gestare art collective to honour my ancestors. In 2012 Lunar Beltane fell on my mother's birthday. An ancient celtic festival celebrating the return of the sun was an opportunity for me to acknowledge my lineage as daughter of Irene Rinna Rose née Buckman, granddaughter of Rebecca Buckman née Shurek.

Eight years later at seventy, one year younger than my mother when she died, I uploaded this video-poem to my website. It was shot just south of the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Revisiting the images and words that came to me then, I'm acutely aware now of Black Lives Matter.  

When I grew up in the fifties and sixties in London, England, I didn't have to fear for my life or fight to find a place as a citizen. My maternal and paternal grandparents had immigrated to England to escape the pogroms of the 1880's in Russia and Poland. By1950 when my twin brother and I were born, English was to be our mother tongue and England our motherland.

I'm re-presenting this video-poem now as a reminder of what has been done through the act of racialising groups of people in order to disempower them.

As nations, we build memorials to represent and remember our values and mark key events in our shared stories. History eventually reveals whether those values deserve to be memorialised—remembered.  

I found Berlin's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe sternly compelling. People walk there, children play hide-and-seek between the rows of coffin-like pillars and yet, even on a grey, rainy day it seemed to me, a tragedy and human crime could be remembered without swallowing up the light for future generations—a reminder not a scourge, a reason to live more honestly and openly in spite of the stumbling blocks—stolpersteine—that lie on our path.

You'd think this monumental memorial with its avenues of grey blocks would be depressing. I didn't find it so. It allowed me to meet issues of death, cruelty, life, love and contemplate my own personal history and ask myself, what kind of legacy do I want to leave my children and my children's children?                                                     June 27, 2020

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