A Virtual Memorial Vilnius 2013
The d/i/light Memorial
Shoah Film Collection
A Virtual Memorial Vilnius 2013 is one of the most comprehensive, complex, complicated and emotionally most exhausting projects Wilfried ever realized. It started already in 2012, when during A Virtual Memorial Riga 2012 he was invited to realize a similiar event 2013 in Vilnius. While in Riga, one of the problems was lying in the combination of an usual Latvian cultural organisation, in shape of NOASS and based on the Jewish organisation Shamir, the Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum, at that time, yet, under construction, in Vilnius Wilfried was collaborating directly with divers Jewish organisations as a non-Jew, generating continueously irritations on most different levels. One of them was, that the Lithuanian venue was realizing such an international project for the 1st time and was completely unexperienced, so that Wilfried was enforced to organise most local Vilnius based things from Cologne, so actually the organisation office was in Cologne and not Vilnius, and another problem was that the Lithianian organisation was not able to fund Wilfried’s project, the transport etc, but only expenses rising on location in Vilnius, thus this combination was very unfortunate, because by doing Wilfried had to learn, that no German or Western European organisation was prepared to fund a project coming from Germany to be realised and organised in Lithuania, nobody had done this before. And the same was good for private sponsors – nothing worked, Wilfried did not only feel, but the reaction of all people was typical – nobody wanted to be connected with a Jewish project, it was Jewish because it was related to the Holocaust and dedicated to the Lithuanian victims of the Holocaust, and the venues were Jewish organisations and institutions in Lithuania. For Wilfried it was shocking that he was confronted with so many hostile (anti-Semitic) reactions, not open, but hidden, so that the time was progressing without any signal, that this enterprise would be funded from the Western European side only with one single cent. Wilfried had been hesitating to ask the European Parliament again for taking the Patronage, but when he got the idea to try an alternative way of funding, eg. crowdfunding he asked in Brussels for the Patronage and luckily it took only 10 days, when the confirmation of the Patronage arrived in March 2013. From now on, he was working hard to set up a really good crowdfunding project, but…… the closer the deadline approached it became obvious that from the requested funding sum of 12000 Euro Wilfried did not even collect 1000 Euro (exactly 860 Euro), and nearly all financial contributions had come from the participating artists. On one hand, Wilfried was happy about this solidarity, on the other hand however absolutely desperate, and the combination of this (antisemtic) hostile reactions and the perspectives, that Wilfried was not able to recruit any money for the expensive installations to be exhibited in Vilnius were generating a kind of emotional stress, that Wilfried got the same symptoms like 1998 before he fell into the coma, high fever which did not want to decrease. And then it happened – the doctor told him one day, he would need to put Wilfried immediately for some days into an artificial coma. Break! Break! Luckily it did not last longer than one week, and Wilfried, who usually never is giving up, had to decide to cancel the event in Vilnius. When he got report from his Jewish partners in Lithuania, that their events are funded, and they would not need any additional money from Western sources, Wilfried made an unexpected step and decided, to realize his project without the requested money by using cheap and poor digital material instead of the artistic originals, because he had invested so much energy und emotions already, and he hoped that the people would appreciate his courage to realise this Jewish project under such unfortunate conditions. Yes, and then Wilfried started his travel to Vilnius with two suitcases, a small one for his clothes and the bigger one including the digital material for the exhibition in Vilnius. So, when Wilfried was caught at the airport by the director of the Jewish Center in Vilnius, he did at first not understand – he asked where the exhition is, and when Wilfried was pointing to the bigger suitcase, the director still did not understand, until Wilfried unpacked some hours later the suitcase in the cultural center. Really, even Wilfried was shocked about the poor looking exhibition material, consisting mainly of digital prints to be installed at the walls and DVD’s containing the video programs. And now, the exhibition is installed, and Wilfried is happy that he succeeded in overcoming all the incredible hurdles and when the door of the cultural center opens to welcome the Israeli ambassador in Baltic States Ms, Hagit Ben Yakov, who finally was solving all problems which were rising until the last second. It was her also in 2012 who finally made the event in Riga possible via her personal interventions, and in Vilnius it was even for her diplomatic status a real challenge, but reaching for the hand of Ms Ben Yakov is giving now Wilfried an incredible satisfaction – because against all odds, he is standing there ……..
A Virtual Memorial Vilnius 2013 is realized in Kedainiai, a small town close to Kaunas where one of the last surviving synagoges in Lithuania is located, serving nowadays as a cultural centre, which is partner of the event, and Vilnius including several venues – the Jewish Cultural Centre, Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum with its Tolerance Centre, where Doron Polak will be performing in two days, and the St. Catherine’s Church, where a concert of Arturas Bumsteinas and his group of musicians is taking place performing a composition which is created for the occasion of the event – and then ….-A Virtual Memorial Vilnius 2013 is included into the World Litvak Congress (Litvak- Lithuanian Jews living outside of Lithuania), which is giving Wilfried’s event a particular dimension.
And then Wilfried is really happy when he is leading the Israeli Ambassador around pointing to the exeptional digital prints of Eitan Vitkon, which are showing experimental photografic works when he was accompanying the other Israeli artist Doron Polak with his performances. Yes, the installation of the exhibition is poor in the sense, that there are no expensive frames or decoration, so the director of the Contemporary Art Center nearby is complaining this poverty, but the event is rich due to the artistic substance and the hearts and the emotions of the involved people, besides Wilfried – 13 artists attending and participating in the Symposium running for the next 4 days.
One thing, however had become clear, and the doctors advised Wilfried to be very careful, that the event in Vilnius will remain singular and he will not organise another exhausting event like that – for his health sake!
A Virtual Memorial Vilnius 2013
A Virtual Memorial Vilnius 2013 – is running between 23 September and 29 October 2013, between 24 and 27 September the Symposium is taking place, and between 28 September and 29 October 2020, the daily screenings – the program is composed of videos from the Shoah Film Collections, which is shown in Vilnius and Kedainiai for the 1st time completely, and the world premiere of CologneOFF IX – the new festival edition to be launched on occasion of A Virtual Memorial Vilnius 2013.
On occasion of the relaunch of a Virtual Memorial Vilnius today, 23 September 2020, the ALPHABET @ The New Museum of Networked Art is starting its weeks of Holocaust Remembrance (23 Sept. – 15 November 2020) by presenting @ Cinema S– the first of several selections from Shoah Film Collection @ The d/i/light Memorial