The Departmental Museum of the Resistance and Deportation of the Haute-Garonne in Toulouse and the Memorial of the Camp of Rivesaltes (66) present two exhibitions of British photographer Michael Kenna.
Through the strength and sensitivity of his photographic work, Michael Kenna has constructed, by photographing between 1986 and 1999, the places of deportation and the Nazi concentration camp system, an object of memory of great power.
Michael Kenna has systematized his work through his approach to the Nazi concentration camp universe. For nearly 15 years, he has photographed these sites that have become relics, using the same modus operandi, offering a complete cartography of these places and striking comparisons. With nearly 7,000 photographs of more than 20 camps and killing centers, he creates a sober and powerful project. Between 2011 and 2021, he made an exceptional donation to the Museum of National Resistance in Champigny-sur-Marne (MNR). No less than 6,385 negatives, 1,644 working prints and 261 prints by the artist join the French collections.
In partnership with the MRN, the Musée Départemental de la Résistance & de la Déportation is presenting, from March 9 to May 27, 2023, 64 prints from this donation. These photographs will be combined with objects from the museum’s collection that are related to this universe, as well as four major works on loan from the MRN. This work of remembrance, which is both a testimony and an artistic expression, is a new opportunity for the museum to work on the history of the deportations, supported by the historian and curator Thomas Fontaine, director of the MRN, and Sabine Troncin-Denis, European agent for Michael Kenna Photography, co-curator of this exhibition.
Photography, the art of memory
At the Rivesaltes Camp Memorial, 80 original photographic prints by Michael Kenna, also from his residency and from the MRN collection, will be on display from March 10 to October 1, 2023. To this project of more than a decade, preserved at the MRN, Michael Kenna has added exceptional works made on the site of the former Rivesaltes camp during an artistic residency in March 2022. Curated by Michel Poivert, founder of the Collège international de la photographie, the exhibition proposes to articulate history, memory and artistic sensitivity around a question: what can contemporary photography, this art of memory by essence, face the heritage of memorial sites?
“To preserve a trace”
These two collections will be the subject, in 2023, of an exceptional exhibition in two major places of memory in Occitania within the framework of a new and ambitious partnership on the scale of the region: the Departmental Museum of Resistance and Deportation of Haute-Garonne and the Memorial of the Camp of Rivesaltes. This partnership takes the form of two complementary exhibitions, each dealing with an aspect of this colossal work.
Complemented by a cultural and scientific program on both sites, these exhibitions are an opportunity to open up new avenues of reflection, at a time when witnesses are disappearing, around the transmission and the central place of art in this process.
“I happened to photograph these camps for a dozen years. I had to photograph them […], to keep this memory alive, to keep a trace. My work is about memory.” (Michael Kenna, December 2019)
The Departmental Museum of the Resistance and Deportation of Haute-Garonne
Created in 1977 on the initiative of former resistance fighters and deportees, the museum became departmental in 1994 and moved to its current location, 52 allées des demoiselles in Toulouse. The museum benefited from a major renovation in 2020. Temporary exhibitions and a permanent tour allow the public to discover the history of the Second World War in Haute-Garonne and the region, through a collection of objects, archives, photographs and local testimonies. The Departmental Museum of the Resistance and Deportation of Haute-Garonne is a space of conservation, collection and valorisation, but also of meeting and reflection around the values of commitment and solidarity. Open to the most contemporary questions, its objective is to show the universal and timeless character of the Resistance and the Deportation, by fulfilling a triple historical, memorial and citizen mission.
“La Lumière de l’ombre, photographies des camps nazis” – From March 9 to May 27, 2023 at the Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation de la Haute-Garonne – Toulouse
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm – Closed on public holidays – Exceptional opening on May 8.
The Rivesaltes Camp Memorial
Inaugurated in October 2015, the Rivesaltes Camp Memorial is built in the middle of the remains of the barracks, witnesses to the fate of more than 60,000 people. This mark in space makes it a unique place, which reflects the traumas of the twentieth century: the Spanish War, the Second World War and the wars of decolonization. The Memorial is a place of history and memories, open to the contemporary world. Through its exhibitions and its scientific and cultural program, it aims to disseminate historical knowledge, particularly for young people. Finally, it is an extraordinary building that has earned its architect, Rudy Ricciotti, the Équerre d’Argent. The Rivesaltes Camp Memorial is a public establishment of cultural cooperation (EPCC), supported by the Occitanie / Pyrenees-Mediterranean Region and the Department of Pyrénées-Orientales.
“A photographic memory” – From March 10 to October 1, 2023 at the Rivesaltes Camp Memorial