embedded in didactic methods to create awareness of racism, anti-semittism and othering
This artistic research project explores new methods to prevent racism and antisemittism among young people.
Transposing workshop- based methodology from the pilot project (Kramer 2018), that focuses on the Jewish tradition of commemoration through stones the pilot was developed in Lodz, Poland. Participants in workshops receive small parcels at the workshop entrance. Unwrapping the paper, instructions and agreement of consent is found on the inside, as well as an individual number. The instructions informs how the participants may contribute to the unveiling of information about Holocaust victims, and gives instructions for procedure: To grasp  the stone and feel it becoming warm inside the palm. To make a drawing on the inside of the paper.
To pay notice to the number which corresponds to a list on the wall. Here individual information is provided: The name, age, gender and home address of the person commemorated. A name tag is provided to the stone and placed on a map. Participants may then photograph the stone and publish on social media using hashtags. The drawings and the stones remain in the property of the researchers and will be used for exhibitions and other relevant purposes. An anonymous user experience survey is the final stage of the workshop.
DEVELOPMENT SINCE 2020
The new project, Hvis dette er et menneske? (If this were a human being) is being developed in cooperation with Falstadsenteret, a human rights and democracy center in Trøndelag, Norway.
The project builds on information about Norwegian Jews deported from Trondheim in 1942. Creating an archive using theory from microhistory, the project explores collaboratory art methodologies as methods of change (Berman 2017). How can inquiry-based learning strengthen the links between teaching and disciplinary research (Spronken-Smith and Walker, 2010)? The exploration of drawing as tool for learning (Mäkelä 2007) will continue in this branch of the project. What are the cultural semiotic consequences when site-specific narrative is transposed to another place (Magid, 2012)? Which elements could be of significance in this transposition? (Torop, 2017)? What ethical considerations should be taken (Guo, 2014)?
The project investigates new approaches of commemorating though drawing/illustration, as well as relation between object and participant (Moniker, 2016) and discusses memory and object (Jenkins, 2018). The exploration of the viewer as illustrator and objects as illustration is the expected outcome.
The project is a cooperation between Falstadsenteret and professor Hilde Kramer, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design at the University of Bergen. Project leader is Sebastian Klein, Head of Education at Falstadsenteret. During the first symposium of the project on 19th of October 2020 he gives a presentation
Stones as starting-point for constructing a methodology combining learning and commemoration
Stones are closely connected to the act of commemoration in Jewish culture, and have been used for centuries in graveyards. Since the release of Steven Spielbergs film Schindler´s List the use of stones as commemoration has spread also to all continents and also crossing cultural borders. But stones are being used in commemoration also in cases not related to a Jewish context:
32 dead, 32 stones (Moniker, 2015) is a memorial dedicated to the victims of the shooting on May 7th, 1945 at the Dam Square in Amsterdam where a drunk Nazi-German soldier shot randomly into a crowd. The commemoration site was realized as a collective commemoration project initiated by Studio Moniker that is located at Dam in Amsterdam, Here the names of the victims are written with pebbles placed inside the pavement, and the design of each letter in their names has been ‘negotiated’ by visitors to a website.
Czysta woda/ Clear water (Dobosz, 2018) is a graphic installation by Agnieszka Dobosz exhibited at the BWA gallery in Kraków, Poland in July 2018. Her project relates to family history; her second great grand-mother awaiting the return of the artists grandfather from a concentration camp. Collecting stones from a river nearby the family home, she exhibited them together with her own drawings on the gallery floor. In the description of the artistic installation on the gallery wall there is no explanation if the use of stones and reference to concentration camp should be understood as an art project relating to a Jewish context.
A NEW WORKSHOP STRUCTURE DEVELOPED DURING 2021 AND 2022
- Participants making individual maps through frottage
- Expanding drawing as part of the methodology: While draving the stone still is important, in the new workshops the participants also use the frottage technique to create portraits of the victims commemorated in the workshops.
For our project, both the drawing-illustration parts, map-making and vocalisation are examples of drama-pedagical approaches.
* Organizers: Nasjonalt senter for kunst og kultur i opplæringen (KKS) og Demokratisk Beredskap mot Rasisme og Antisemittisme (Dembra).
1. […] the knowing touch projects us outside our body through movement. […] There are tactile phenomena, alleged tactile qualities, like roughness and smoothness, which disappear completely if the exploratory movement is eliminated. Movement and time are not only an objective condition of knowing touch, but a phenomenal component of tactile data. They bring about the patterning of tactile phenomena, just as light shows up the configuration of a visible surface.
Guo, H. (2014, 09 24). The Ethical Turn in Contemporary Western Semiotics. Retrieved from De Greuter: https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/css.2014.10.issue-3/css-2014-0037/css-2014-0037.xml
Hertenstein, M. (2011). The communicative functions of touch in adulthood. In: Hertenstein MJ, Weiss SJ, editors. The Handbook of Touch: Neuroscience, Behavioral, and Health Perspectives New York, USA: Springer, pp. 299–327.
Kramer, H (2018) Når tilskueren tegner. Minnehandlinger og formidling av sensitive emner i det 21. århundre. Formakademisk 11 Vol. 3. DOI: ttps://doi.org/10.7577/formakademisk.2741
Magid, S. (2012). The Holocaust and Jewish Identity in America: Memory, the Unique, and the Universal. Jewish Social Studies Vol. 18, No. 2 , pp. 100-135.
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Mäkelä, M. (2007) Drawing as a Research Tool: Making and understanding in art and design practice. Retrieved 02.11. 2019 from researchgate.net: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277308776_Drawing_as_a_research_tool_Making_and_understanding_in_art_and_design_practice
Moniker, S. (2016). Place A Stone. Retrieved from Place A Stone: https://placeastone.nl Retrieved 02.11. 2019
Skjeie H.F., (2019)
Myndiggjøring i forhold til rasisme og utenforskap gjennom teater. https://www.duo.uio.no/bitstream/handle/10852/73823/Masteroppgave_Hanna_Fatland_Skjeie.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y Retrieved 07.12.2022
Smith et al. (2021) Disabilit, the communication of physical activity and sedentary behavious, and ableism: A call for inclusive messages. In British Journal of Medicine february 2021. Retrieved 10.12.2022 DOI:10.1136/bjsports-2020-103780
Spronken-Smith, R. & Walker, R. Can inquiry‐based learning strengthen the links between teaching and disciplinary research? Retrieved from tandfonline.com: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03075070903315502
Torop, P. (2017, 12). Semiotics of cultural history. Retrieved from researchgate.net:
Venkatesan, S. (2011). The Social Life of a "Free" Gift.
Wierzbowski, Jessica Lynn, "The effects of systemic ableism on those with a visual impairment : a theoretical perspective" (2011). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA. https://scholarworks.smith.edu/theses/1027 Retreived 10.12.2022
Maps may be used to construct notions of place. As rhetoric tools maps may be used to construct narratives of power, history, memory etc. Maps may also work as ways of revealing abuse of power such as the project Palestine Open Maps, Visualizing Palestine (Barclay et al 2018). In this project, a map of Trondheim from 1942 was redrawn to a contemporary design expression. It served as a way of giving overview of where the victims of the deportations in 1942 lived. Those familiar with the places can mentally place themselves in the streets. For participants without previous knowledge, the map may be a way of understanding socio-economic conditions when combined with the biographies, and serve as information to visiting these places later. Photo: Hilde Kramer
From the very beginning of the project, I was interested in exploring the
affordances of stones as detatched object in human interactive
communication. The first aspect was to test how it would work to evoke
attention and keep focus for the workshop attendees. "The fact that a stone is a missile does not imply that it cannot be other things as well. It can be a paperweight, a bookend, a hammer, or a pendulum bob. It can be piled on another rock to make a cairn or a stone wall. These affordances are all consistent with one another. The differences between them are not clear-cut, and the arbitrary names by which they are called do not count for perception. If you know what can be done with a graspable detached object, what it can be used for, you can call it whatever you please." (Gibson 1979) Photo: Hilde Kramer
If the small parcels placed side by side in random order and in groups , it may remind of the nameless numbered victims of genocide; deprived of name and identity. What the participants discover as the workshop progresses, is that the step by step learn more about one particular person: Name, time of birth, place of residency, circumstances around and time of deportation. During the test period in Poland (2016-2020) the identities of the victims were taken from the National Archives in Łódź. This is what later developed to WPII, research on artist books and three-diemsional objects as illustrations. In the development of WPI (2017-) the material was taken from Norwegian archives about Jewish deportees in 1942. While in WPII the victims were ghetto children, in WPI the identities are chosen across genders, age groups and socio-economic status. Photo: Hilde Kramer
Since every stone is differerent in shape and material no drawings will be identical. The author of each drawing operates according to their drawing skills. One drawing may only be a circle left on the paper. Others vary the contour, add, stone patterns, gives information of volume, light and shadow. Photo: Hilde Kramer
When a stone is wrapped in a paper and tied with a string, it borrows the physical expression and connotations of a gift. A gift may evoke the recipient´s curiosity or desire but may also provide a feeling of obligatory reciprocity: "What do I oblige to do in return?" (Derrida 1994: Venkatesan 2011) While this question is partly what we want the participants to ask themeselves, it also requires ethical guidelines. The participants are presented with a workshop description ahead of joining, where they would give their consent, or decline the invitation to participate. And the participants will then understand no gift is actually given, no transaction is made except a shared experience. Between 2016 and 2022 all the workshop material was kept within the project, to be able to assess the results and keep track of the development. Since 2022 a change has been made, which removes the potential misunderstanding of what the wrapping paper actually does provide; a the first clue of information that leads to the identity of a genocide victim (on the inside of the paper). It also hade the role of being the paper surface where the participants would make their drawings. Photo: Hilde Kramer
In the intital stage of development, the packages had small inscriptions in English in the beginning: "This is a human being". Evidently, the title plays with the resemblance to Primo Levi´s book "If this is a man". In our time the word ' man' is seen more genederd than in Levi´s time. However the direct sentence beginning with 'This is' suggested the content as a direct representation of human being, which was not desired. In Norwegian the word human - 'menneske ' - is not gendered. Since 2017, the workshops have moved from Poland to Falstad in Norway, which allowed for using a Norwegian text. The grammar and semantic content of all parts of the project is still under developemnt at the end of 2022. Photo: Hilde Kramer
Since every stone is differerent in shape and material, no drawings will look the same. The author of each drawing operates according to their drawing skills. One drawing may only be a circle left on the paper. Others vary the contour, add, stone patterns, gives information of volume, light and shadow. Photo: Hilde Kramer
2017 - 2020
Anonymous feedback from questionaires. Areas explored were:
*Suggestions for improvement workshop structure
*Amount of text information and what parts of the texts should be made easier to understand.
*Use of typefonts, beginning with Futura Condenced and Gill Sans to provide a sensation of retro, the resemblance of the design during WWII. Response from both oral interviews (Young adults Falstadsenteret) and anonymous feedback (Design students KMD) was more or less unified; such elements were not important to the overall experience. In conversation with groups with concentration challenges, the importance of information clarity was emphesized.
A3 frottage maps as new workshop element tested at Flastad 2021 (workshop participants were educators), and students/ teachers at the Norwegian Institute for Children Books.
"If teachers are aiming for strong links between teaching and research, they should adopt an open, discovery-oriented range of important elements in the learning design, including the design of learning spaces and student assessments."
Spronken-Smith & Walker 2010
When does one know that a thought has changed? Sometimes it can be difficult to track the birth of an idea, since we exist in a constant stream of influences. I can identify cetrain moments that have been pivotal for the project. Below: Photo by Hilde Kramer
As early as 2019, the idea of a simple booklet was tested out for WPII as a way of walking in the former ghetto district in Lodz with a light-weight guide instead of a smartphone. In the new workshop routines, the participants make their own booklets based on information about the deportees from Trondheim 1942. The booklet contains drawings, collected information, a map and room for own reflections. Photo: Hilde Kramer
I had an initial theory in 2016 that tactility would be important to the participant´s experience of the workshop. How could I support this theory from other fields of knowledge? Gradually I made discoveries of academic research, especially from neuroscience that supported my thesis:
Touch is an important source of information about the world, and a way of grounding ourselves; providing the brain a sense of being-in-the world (Benoit et al. 2018). The representation of tactile information interacts with information about other sensory attributes of objects or events that people perceive, suggesting that multisensory information-processing networks play a leading role in the storage of tactile information in the brain (Gallace & Spence, 2009). Moreover, touch plays a key role in emotional communication (Hertenstein, M. 2011)
My growing awareness of ableism in visual communication and design a result of giving ear to voices from intersectionality.
December 2022: In what way can the workshop in better ways include those with visual impairment? A barrier for those with a visual impairment is the desire to want those with a visual impairment to read regular print instead of large print or Braille (Hehir, 2007). Society maybe be responsible for these barriers but, may not be aware of it (Madriga, 2007).
What would it take to make a version of the text/ new workshop routines to include wheelchair users, deaf people and people with vision impairment?
May the big map be replaced with a lasercut tactile version?
A linguistic discovery ca 2020:
Inspired by the quote by Levinás (see left) about grasping, both the explorations of tactile ways of being-in the world as well as the metaphorical meaning of understanding deriving from 'grasping' found in many Eurpoean languages: English, Germanic, Romance,Scandinavian, Slavic languages, Yiddish
Tactility as enhancement of engagement: from stones to frottage maps August 2022 after a research-based lecture/workshop at KMD. The importance of design throughout the project: Typography, colours and design expression - from an imitation of the design look of 1940ies to a contemporary design aiming at including Universal Design principle.
Assessing a potential danger: The resemblance to Sagmeister and Walsh´visual identity for the Jewish museum in New York - both projects using the Thekelet blue. Designwise very different.
Theoretical foundation for a theory of the workshops drawings as illustration.
New possibilities opening up through the new network based in exploration of dramapedagogy.
New development of the big map: From a passive requisite to part of the creative tools of the participants.
From map to booklet
Below: As the project develops in a direction of universal design, it is necessary to involve new test groups/ advisors. Revised workshop plan December 5th 2022 Photo: Hilde Kramer
From the workshop in October 2022: Having a team for brainstorming is fundamental for idea development of a complex structure. Here Sebastian Klein, Falstad and Thanee Andino, UiB. After the workshop, a crew of students were invited to critique the new structure. Photo: Hilde Kramer
Stone drawings as meditations: From the beginning of the project I have questioned my role as researcher-illustrator.HOw do I make space for my own visual exploration and development? Far to much time is occupied with organisation and administration of the project. From time to time, I make my own drawings of stones as a way of contemplating the project. Photo: Hilde Kramer