IRA HOFFECKER


‘This work references my childhood memories of trauma that I attempted to forget for so many years - without success. Through research and the making of History as Personal Memory, I have learned that only by consciously working through memories, writing them down, finally articulating them in my work, can my healing start to take place.’
 
    
ARTIST'S STATEMENT - CURRICULUM VITAE - GALLERY
 
​I am interested in how Germans deal with collective memory, with suppressing and forgetting the past as opposed to remembering and striving to come to terms with the past. Formerly my work critically examined and analyzed the different identities that places like Berlin can take on over time within paintings. With this new body of work, I scrutinized German collective memory, investigated power structures and the overstepping of personal boundaries. I combined ideas pertaining to homeland and my own personal memory. This body of work consists of paintings, drawings and the video History as Personal Memory.

This work references my childhood memories of trauma and sexual abuse through my grandfather that I attempted to forget for so many years – without success. Through research and the making of History as Personal Memory, I have learned that not only by consciously working through memories, writing them down, finally articulating them in my work, can my healing start to take place.

In my video, I introduced working with my body to see if I could use it as a tool of investigation. My voice recites text by Nietzsche, Foucault and my own writings that I included as a voice-over to the imagery. My hand is captured working on a painting. I poured tar onto the canvas and rubbed it into the surface. In one scene, I walked on train tracks. I projected my grandfather's portrait onto my body. I am interested in how I can utilize my body as a tool to reactivate memory. Video allowed my body to implement the dialogue of my story, perform the story.

I investigated Foucault’s ideas concerning a variety of power structure models, which contributes to the dialogue my work embodies. I am interested in how people can usurp power and impose power over others. I was interested in finding out about the psychological consequences of those who had been overpowered by others and what happens when a child’s boundaries are compromised.

With my hands, I applied tar to the surfaces of canvas. The tar is dark black and I am attracted to the viscosity of this medium. Tar was the first medium I used when I started painting many years ago. I used tar when I also melted lead and poured it on metal. Lead is of major importance in Germanic mythology. I did not use lead in the new work, but its association with tar in my process development seemed to be enough. Working with tar helped me reflect on what it means to be German.

In my film, I tore pages from a history book about the Third Reich, a time in Germany’s history that many Germans would prefer to eradicate from memory. Many Germans of my generation would like to expunge this part of our history and to put a leaden blanket onto the past. Yet, it is important to face and to discuss this past, to show how it was possible for the Nazis to come to power, in order to prevent its imposed trauma and desecration from ever happening again.