A British disabled film-maker’s acclaimed installation exploring the horrors of the targeted killing of disabled people in Nazi Germany is to be exhibited at one of America’s most renowned cultural venues.
Liz Crow’s Resistance: which way the future? is to be shown at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC even though Crow has yet to find a venue willing to exhibit it in London.
This week, the film installation was brought to Mansfield, where Crow was hoping it would receive similar acclaim as at its launch at DaDa Fest in Liverpool last November.
Crow said it was “hugely exciting” that Resistance would be exhibited by the Smithsonian, but she said she was frustrated at how difficult it had been to find exhibition spaces willing to host the installation in the UK.
She said: “It seems to really connect with people and really get them thinking. My fear is that it will never realise that potential. It would be such a waste if it doesn’t get out there.”
The Aktion T4 programme is believed to have led to the targeted killing of as many as 200,000 disabled people in Germany, and possibly many thousands more, and became the blueprint for the “Final Solution”, through which the Nazis hoped to wipe out Jews, gay people and other minority groups.
Crow’s installation features a short drama about T4, a filmed conversation between three of the actors from the drama, and a series of voices of disabled people talking about their present-day, “sharp end” experiences of both discrimination and inclusion.
It explores the values that permitted the T4 programme to take place but also reveals how people found the courage to resist.
Crow said she tries to draw visitors out of the “historical hopelessness” of T4 into exploring how they as individuals could prevent the kind of oppression that surfaced in Nazi Germany.
She said: “This is an episode of history that is virtually hidden, yet the values that underpinned it still echo through disabled people’s lives today.”
Disablist hate crime, the campaign to legalise assisted suicide and pre-natal screening and abortion all “challenge the worth of disabled people’s lives and even their right to exist”, she said.
She added: “The campaigns that were needed, the resistance that was needed during the Nazi regime, are still needed now. We still need to create change on the same kind of issues.”
Disabled people who have visited the installation tended to be struck by its historical elements, she said, while non-disabled visitors tended to be affected most by the realisation that such oppression was still taking place today.
In the absence of such issues being debated during the election campaign, she said she hoped a tour of Resistance could become a platform for such issues to be discussed.
She said: “I don’t feel like this is a project of mine. I would love it if people took it and used it to create change.”
Resistance is at The Old Library, Leeming Street, Mansfield, from Tuesday 20 April to Saturday 1 May, with public access from Monday to Friday, noon-2pm, and on Saturdays, from 11am-3pm.
For further information about the installation, visit www.roaring-girl.com
19 April 2010