Bruno Schulz, 1935. Courtesy Benjamin Geissler.
Die Bilderkammer des Bruno Schulz
Eine Mobile Installation von Benjamin Geissler
June 26-September 9, 2012
Collection Falkenberg Deichtorhallen in Hamburg-Harburg presents for the first time a video installation of Hamburg filmmaker Benjamin Geissler, reconstructing destroyed mural paintings of famous Polish writer, philosopher, and artist Bruno Schulz, murdered in 1942 by the Nazis.
Bruno Schulz, a Polish Jew born in 1892, grew up in the Galician Drohobicz (Drohobitsch). His literary works include the book The Cinnamon Shops as well as numerous short stories.
He is today considered one of the great Polish writers of the 20th Century. His works have been translated into more than 30 languages and influenced contemporary authors like Jonathan Safran Foer, David Grossman, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and John Updike.
After the occupation of Drohobicz by Nazis in 1942, Bruno Schulz became the "property" of SS main troop leader Felix Landau and his mistress. Schulz catalogued loot, made drawings and inlay work for Landau. In addition, he was commissioned by Landau to create murals in the Landau villa for Landau's two children. In return Landau promised special rights, food, and later forged papers for his escape. Felix Landau was sentenced in 1963 to life imprisonment. Just 63 years old, he was pardoned for good behavior in 1971.
In the ostensibly fairy tale motifs he created, Schulz also reflected on his own situation: the mythical and exotic figures reflected real individuals, like his mother, friends, the house of Landau and his mistress. The first activity as an artist Schulz protected from destruction — until he was randomly shot in 1942 on the street in a wild action by the Gestapo.
Designed by Bruno Schulz in 1942 under German occupation, the images were discovered by Benjamin Geissler in 2001. This was after the Yad Vashem sent three separate fragments of the mural to Israel. Five other mural fragments were taken from the villa walls by Ukrainian authorities.
Benjamin Geissler documented the first surgical exploration of the mural and the destruction of the composition. On the basis of his imagery, a virtual reconstruction of the murals was built to scale. On the occasion of the 120th birthday of Bruno Schulz visitors were able to see for the first time a complete view of the overall composition of a long-lost work.
On January 20, 2012, the work was presented to the public in Zittau, Saxony. Newspapers such as Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Neue Zürcher Zeitung and New York Times reported in detail about the rediscovery. Now the images chamber go on a tour through Freiburg, Luxembourg, Brussels, Warsaw, Krakow, Johannesburg, New York, and finally to Lviv Drohobicz.