Arts Council England
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Looking through the eyes of survivors

A national touring exhibition is using creative technology to give people an insight into the Holocaust through real life pictures and letters from the day.

The Eye as Witness exhibition, developed by the National Holocaust Museum and the University of Nottingham, has used funding from Arts Council England to develop an interactive experience using photography, texts and testimony. Alongside this is an educational programme to get people thinking critically about race and hatred.

A figure stands silhouetted against a projected backdrop, with dim purple lighting.

Eye as Witness exhibition launch (c) David Parry

Peter Knott, Area Director for Arts Council England yesterday said:

"Recognising significant events in history through art and culture is important for us all, and Eye as Witness is a powerful example of how technology can give future generations the opportunity to hear Holocaust survivors' testimonies in their own words.

“We're proud to support this national touring exhibition through National Lottery funding, as it helps us explore the lessons we learn from history, while creating new work and telling important stories."

Through the power of virtual reality experience, people can experience being behind the camera of a Nazi produced photograph, interactive survivor testimony and photographs, and a film, ‘The Weight of Images’ created by award-winning Swedish artist Lina Selander, reflecting on the gaps in our memory and understanding.

A VR image of a soldier standing in the street, with planes flying overhead.

A VR still from the Eye As Witness exhibition. Image (c) Bright White

Marc Cave, Interim CEO National Holocaust Centre & Museum yesterday said: 

“Whilst The Eye As Witness is an excitingly creative use of technology to reconsider the past, its purpose is chillingly contemporary.

 “As we approach Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 and the 75th anniversary since the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen death camps were liberated, this exhibition invites critical thinking. It asks you to understand the visual cunning of the Nazis and how it helped permeate and legitimise anti-Jewish hate — and to think critically about the same propaganda techniques being used on social media today by the Hard Left and the Hard Right alike.”

The exhibition will be shown across the country from 15 January 2020 – 24 March 2021, and is the product of research carried out by the Arts Council England and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded, ‘Photography as Political Practice in National Socialism’ project, led by Prof. Maiken Umbach, which brings together historians, education experts, computer scientists and museum professionals to transform the use of images in understanding the Nazi regime and the Holocaust.



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