The Rippling Currents of the River
The Danube Exodus: The Rippling Currents of the River is an immersive installation about the displacement of ethnic minorities and the possible connections between them. Based on The Danube Exodus , an award-winning film by Hungarian filmmaker and Getty scholar, Péter Forgács, the installation premiered at the Getty Research Institute at the Getty Center in 2002. The project grew out of a collaboration between Péter Forgács, well known for his compelling documentaries based on found footage from Europe in the 1930s – 40s, and the creative team of The Labyrinth Project.
Visitors to The Danube Exodus installation are immediately immersed in three interwoven historical narratives. They can choose to enter the three separate spaces in any sequence, and, within each, to use a touchscreen monitor interface (designed by Scott Mahoy) to pursue a particular pathway. One narrative tells of Eastern European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution in 1939, trying to reach a ship on the Black Sea that will carry them to Palestine. The second story, set in 1940 following the Soviet re-annex-ation of Bessarabia, tells of émigré German farmers abandoning their adopted homeland to return to the "safety" of the Third Reich, but eventually being relocated in occupied Poland. Both groups were transported along the Danube River by Captain Nándor Andrásovits, an amateur filmmaker who documented these voyages; he and the river are the subjects of the third story.
The contrast between past and present is most explicit in the side spaces devoted either to the Jewish or German experience. Here one can watch recent interviews with survivors of the journeys juxtaposed with images of them on the ship, and examine their family photos, diaries and official records. In the central narrative space visitors can choose from among eighteen 3 to 5 minute orchestrated sequences from different ethnic databases which are interwoven by history. No matter which sequences are chosen, the stories still compete for control over the central narrative space, and the user is still confronted with the difficult task of "comparing the incomparable," which becomes even more complicated with historical hindsight. Despite the minimal role of randomness, this ongoing process of reorchestration reminds us that History is like Heraclitus's river. You can never step into the same river or the same history twice.
The Danube Exodus ' mesmerizing and immersive sound track by sound designer Jim McKee of Earwax Productions includes ambient sounds of the river and harbor, the mechanical rhythms of ships' engines, regional music from the period, songs and prayers of the refugees, voice overs of the Captain and his passengers and the haunting minimalist music of composer Tibor Szemzö who has collaborated with Forgács on all of his previous films. The interface was designed by Rosemary Comella, Kristy H.A. Kang and Scott Mahoy in collaboration with Péter Forgács and project director Marsha Kinder.
official documentation website C3
acquisition of Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, LUMU Budapest
• _INST: ALKIMISTA, ANTROPOLÓGUS, ARCHEOLÓGUS
Created by: Péter Forgács & The Labyrinth Project
The Labyrinth Project: Marsha Kinder, Rosemary Comella, Kristy H.A. Kang, Scott Mahoy, Jim McKee (Annenberg Center for Communication, University of Southern California, Los Angeles)
Co-author of the Jewish Exodus concept: János Varga
Music: Tibor Szemző
Support of equipment, archival materials and funding to Péter Forgacs and the Labyrinth Project
C3-Center for Culture & Communication (Budapest) / Zaia Alexander / Cesar Messemaker, Lumen Film (Amsterdam) / Heimatmuseum der Deutschen aus Bessarabien (Stuttgart) / Hungarian National Film Archive (Budapest) / Ministry of National Cultural Heritage / National Cultural Fund (Budapest) / Private Photo and Film Archive (Budapest) / Budapest Museum of Transportation (Budapest) / The Rockefeller Foundation (New York)
Thanks to the following individuals and familites
The late Mrs. Andrásovits, the late Capt. Petneházy Zalán, the Ashkenazi family, Ella and Guido Fano, aHelmut Fink, Ilse Friedlander (Menzel), Benny Goren (Grunhut), Jehosua Halevy (Czitrom), Raoul Menzel, Dalia Ofer, Michael Renov, Yehuda Tamir-Gros, Zaia Alexander, Chris Caine, Jesse Cowell, Adam King, Josh Newman, Merritt Price, Leon Rodriguez, Rebecca Rolnick, Julia Bloomfield, András Forgách and Eliah Turner.
2009 • The Jewish Museum, New York, USA
2008 • Filmhuis, The Hague, The Netherlands
2007 • The Jewish Museum, Berlin, Germany
2007 • Kunstverein, Ulm, Germany
2006 • Ludwig Museum LUMU, Contemporary Art Museum, Budapest, Hungary
2006 • The Judah Magnes Museum, Berkley, California, USA
2005 • Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland
2003 • Future Cinema / ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany
2003 • CCCB, Barcelona, Spain
2002 • The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, USA
For further information on the exhibition please visit www.danube-exodus.hu