The GreenHill Center for North Carolina Art is honoring the 75th anniversary of World War II by holding a special exhibition next month – “What Remains of the Day: Memories of World War II.”
This will be a solo exhibition by Chapel Hill-based photographer Gesche Würfel who explores the history and memory of World War II through landscape photography, portraiture, video and sound.
Würfel is a contemporary visual artist and Teaching Assistant Professor of Photography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who’s gained international notoriety.
She received an MFA in Studio Art from UNC-Chapel Hill, a master’s degree in Photography and Urban Cultures from Goldsmiths, University of London, UK, and a diploma in Spatial Planning from the Technical University Dortmund, Germany. Her work has been exhibited, published, and won awards in many countries in Europe as well as elsewhere.
“What Remains of the Day: Memories of World War II,” which will run at GreenHill from Friday, Sept. 20, through Friday, Nov. 15, chronicles some of the most tragic events of World War II. Würfel, who was born in Germany and now lives in North Carolina, stated in a press release announcing the exhibition at Greenhill that she hopes her images of places and people encourage viewers “to think about how the horrors of Fascism and World War II are still relevant today.”
The exhibition includes the newest group of modified images in her ongoing series, which were originally photographed in Normandy, France at the D-Day landing beaches.
GreenHill Director of Artistic and Curatorial Programs Edie Carpenter described the art that will be on display.
“This exhibition coincides with the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings,” Carpenter said. “Würfel visited Normandy a year ago and several of her photographs taken there will be seen in North Carolina for the first time. Testimonies by soldiers and survivors of the conflict presented in the exhibition remind the viewer of the timeliness of this moment as we reflect on the future.”
A description of one technique the artist uses reads: “Würfel’s photographs visualize the passage of time through the artist’s unique printing process, in which a degree of pigment is removed for each year since the end of the war. The resulting images of sites of certain of these tragic events appear to be in the process of fading before the viewer’s eyes; inspiring reflection on the permeable nature of memory.”
Würfel’s photographic portraits of witnesses of the war who she interviewed are also presented at the exhibit along with ambient video recordings of their narratives. These witnesses include Holocaust survivors, Nazi supporters, German bystanders and allied veterans. The recorded histories and portraits of people – who are now elderly – “only intensify the haunted quality of the landscape images” according to those putting on the exhibit.