EXODUS

CHARLOTTE - ESRA





In 2017, I integrated myself into the Red Cross asylum center in Eeklo, which mainly receives young refugees who have often come to Belgium unaccompanied. I ran a makeshift photo studio in one of the classrooms where Dutch lessons being taught. As a photographer and master of visual culture, I am committed to the layering of images, the stories that evoke/provoke these images, and the instrumental value of these visual narratives. I wanted to give them a face and a voice and portray them from within. Therefore, I took a first interview about their situation then and now. Our conversation ended with the question: “What does happiness mean to you?


In 2018 I met Charlotte Klipstein. I was fascinated by her appearance, aura and her story. I took her to the places she went into hiding during World War II, photographed her while giving testimony to young people

and took a dip in the family album. A friend filmed a captivating conversation with her. Here my concluding question too was: “What does happiness mean to you? “


In 2019 I introduced my project to the Auschwitz Foundation. They were instantly enthusiastic about the two story lines touching each other and the visual interpretation of it. The Auschwitz Foundation signed for the materialization of the exhibition and made the Dossin Barracks’ (Kazerne Dossin) fourth floor available so that 'Exodus, Charlotte - Esra', may contribute to sensitization and awareness processes reaching out and appeal to the general public.


www.hildebraet.be                                                                 Hilde Braet


Charlotte Klipstein, now a 95-year-old lady just immigrated before World War II to Belgium. To escape deportation to Auschwitz she had to hide several times. Her story -when she as a little girl, witnessing from the balcony of their apartment in Berlin the rise of Nazism to refuges in Flanders- is visualized with photos from her family album, recent pictures and interviews.


Esra fled Afghanistan after many detours, ending up in the Red Cross asylum center. Along with Fateh, Mustafa, Nimo, Duniya and many others, she awaits the outcome of the procedure. Their portrait was made after their testimonials had been recorded. Every conversation ended with the one and only question: "What does happiness mean to you?


These two stories differ in time and space but have much in common. These are stories about the destructive power of standing on the run, on continuing suspicion in the homeland, but also in the (not always very welcoming) host country, on quotas, maximum numbers of refugees that Belgium, Europe wanted and want to record.


Keywords: socially engaged art, remembrance education, citizenship,reminiscence, oral and visual history.


The EXODUS Project will be exhibited in the Dossin Barracks (Kazerne Dossin) from October 25, 2019 to January 26, 2020. The Auschwitz Foundation will then exhibit it in Brussels (location will be announced

later) on the occasion of the worldwide commemoration "75 years of liberation of Auschwitz."