Lifestyle, Manchester, News

‘Representing Trauma’ at Imperial War Museum North

0 221


By Kass Jawaid

Earlier this month, Manchester Metropolitan University students and staff travelled to Imperial War Museum North for a guided tour, and an on-site lecture and seminar.

The trip was organised by Professor Antony Rowland as part of the English department’s ‘Representing Trauma’ unit, which explores representations and collective memories of the Holocaust.


Photograph by Molly McConville

The image to the left displays artwork created by Chava Rosenzweig in which she explores the impact of the Holocaust on second and third generation survivors, such as herself. Rosenzweig’s artwork, known as ‘A Star Shall Stride From Jacob And A Sceptre Bearer Shall Rise’, consists of 630 porcelain stars. The stars represent the Star of David, a symbol of pride for Jewish people that was later turned into a symbol of humiliation by the Nazis. Under the Nazi regime, Jewish men, women and children were forced to wear stars labelled ‘Jude’ (meaning ‘Jew’) and they were targeted by those enacting Nazi discrimination. Each star, placed on the striped uniforms (or ‘striped pyjamas’) of Nazi prisoners, has entered a gas kiln and has ‘survived’, and have been affected by the process. The Holocaust has affected and shaped people’s identities – many survivors, for instance, moved to America, started families and careers and grew old. It could be argued that we learn about the Holocaust to prevent history, or this type of mass genocide, from repeating itself.

Daniel Lebeskind, a Berlin-based architect, well known for buildings such as the Jewish Museum (or the “zig-zag” museum) in Berlin, and the extension to the Denver Art Museum in Colarado, the United States, designed the Imperial War Museum North Museum. The museum opened in July 2002 and received 470,000 visitors in its first year of opening. The museum overlooks the Manchester Ship Canal in Trafford Park, an area that, during the Second World War, was a key industrial centre and consequently heavily bombed during the Manchester Blitz in 1940. The steel-looking appearance of the museum seemingly blends in with the industrial history of Manchester. Libeskind visualised a ‘constellation composed of three interlocking shards’ with each shard representing a globe ‘shattered’ by conflict. These shards represent air, earth and water (the three elements exploited and stained by war and death) and the final product – the museum, which represents the aftermath of the war – reveals the failure to re-piece the globe to a previous time of structured stability.

In conclusion, the trip to the Imperial War Museum North was an aesthetically pleasing and instructive experience as students wandered through the museum, observed artwork, and discussed and debated the varied representations of trauma and the Holocaust. Art is subjective; everything is open to interpretation.

About the author / 


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More News Stories:

  • Leeds Festival 2019: Five Unmissable Acts

    Written by Georgina Hurdsfield In less than a month, on Friday 23rd August, Leeds Festival will be making its big return for their 20th anniversary, now that deserves a big cheer! It will mark the end of festival season for most, and with some of the biggest names in music headlining the festival, it is…

  • Live Review: Saturday @ Blue Dot 2019

    Written by Daniel BroadleyPhoto credit to the photographers of Blue Dot The Saturday at Blue Dot marked the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and mankind taking its first steps on the moon. We marked the occasion by starting the day with a vegan katsu curry for breakfast, catching some incredible musical acts, and watching a…

  • Live Review: Friday @ Blue Dot 2019

    Written by Daniel BroadleyPhoto credit to the photographers of Blue Dot You’ve got your boots on as it’s a bit muddy from the now past rain. You’ve a warm can of beer in hand, a questionably strong bottle of rum and coke in the bag, and you’re on your way to see some good music…

  • Review: Surviving America’s Most Hated Family

    By Ben Thompson Louis Theroux’s latest documentary for the BBC saw him revisiting the Westboro Baptist Church – the infamous church in Kansas, USA, best known for their ‘God Hates Fags’ rhetoric. Having previously documented the small church in previous installments in 2006 and 2010, Theroux was no stranger to the church’s vitriolic rhetoric. The…

aAH! Radio