Shine The Light

Jan 10 - Feb 2, 2018

Alfstad& Contemporary presents, Shine the Light, a three-tier, multi-media exhibition that focuses on the current and historical aspects of refugee displacement, persecution and the struggles of finding home. Opening on January 10, the show features a glass installation by Laura Donefer, photo essay exhibition by Charlotte Schmitz and a short film preview by director Dave Marshall and Deborah Haber. The show runs through February 2nd

Shine the Light is curated under the direction of Deborah Haber, Executive Artistic Director of DEEP Arts, a non-profit arts organization whose mission focuses on the promotion of new works.

“By bringing these three separate works under one roof, Deborah Haber has curated a thought provoking exhibition that presents viewers with a powerful meditation on difficult past and present events,” say Sam Alfstad. “Laura Donefer and Charlotte Schmitz’ work blend together to authoritative stories. One using ghost images of millions lost and the other with individual faces and words. Marshall and Haber’s film trailer of their feature documentary is also a powerful component to this exhibition.”

Laura Donefer’s masterwork Todesmarche Revisited is a 15-foot long installation of approximately 800 casts of bare, upturned, glass and cement feet. Feet cast from real people, including Holocaust survivors. The piece honors those who died in the death marches during the Holocaust. Todesmarche is German for “Death March,” a name for those Jewish prisoners who were forced by the Nazis to walk barefoot from their concentration camps to other camps, and to their deaths.

Donefer’s inspiration for this installation was her father’s research into the fates of their own family members. The records were surprisingly straightforward: “Deported to Auschwitz and gassed,” is how Donefer has said they typically read.

Laura delved into the research,” Haber says. “It’s quite shocking in how it affected her, she was essentially getting her feelings out through this.”

Ms. Haber was watching a CNN documentary when she first heard of German photographer Charlotte Schmitz. Schmitz wanted to see the crisis with her own eyes. Her work in the exhibit, titled Take Me to Jermany, was shot among the refugee populations in Turkey internment camps.

"It was something else to be there and to see people arrive to the island and kiss the ground and thank their God or friends that they made it," she says. "Because, of course, so many people didn't make it."

Schmitz used a Polaroid camera, chronicling the people she encountered, and asked them to write something on the photos she’d taken. Many wrote of their struggles, their feelings of loneliness and despair.

"Instant photography gives people the possibility to write on the actual paper," she says. "That's why I decided on it -- so everyone could tell freely what he or she thinks or feels."

A young man in Eidomeni wrote: “I see only Humans, not Humanity” on his pictures – surmising the whole crisis in just one sentence.

Take Me to Jermany is about telling a story and making its characters co-authors,” says Schmitz. “I want people to see and to think more about every individual person."

Also featured in the exhibition is Emmy-award winning documentary film director Dave Marshall and DEEP Arts Artistic Director Deborah Haber’s film trailer of the documentary feature FINDING HOME. Currently in-production, the film follows the development of the new musical Moses Man: Finding Home the true story of Ms. Haber’s father, a Holocaust survivor, and his story’s collision with those of contemporary refugees. The film features interviews and work of notable artists whose work relates to displacement including Ms. Donefer and Ms. Schmitz.

Viewing the Exhibition

Laura Donefer’s 15-foot long glass installation is placed in the center area of the floor, extending nearly from the front of gallery to the rear, with space for patrons to walk completely around. Schmitz’ photographs -- now 40" x 60" and printed on canvas -- are hung on the walls surrounding the installation. 

As viewers enter the gallery they will immediately be confronted with Laura’s image honoring those who perished in the Holocaust, some 70 years ago, and Charlotte's images of those struggling to survive the horrors of war in Syria today.

The two art works, in conjunction, make the hollowness the phrase "Never Again" more vivid and poignant that any words. 

The Opening Night Reception is Wednesday, January 10 from 5:30-8:00pm The exhibition runs through February 2. There will also be a Special Welcome Reception for Art Glass Weekend attendees on Friday, January 26th from 5:30-8:00pm.