Anka Leśniak

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WORKS 2014

Fifi Zastrow

installation, photography, sound record

Ghetto XXI
the exhibition accompanying
the Commemoration of the liquidation of the Litzmannstadt Getto

Monopolis, Lodz

The inspiration for this work was the extraordinary story of Fifi Zastrow (Friderike Falkenberg), actress of Jewish origin, who performed in the Theater zu Litzmannstadt (Lodz, Poland) during the time of Nazi occupation. Theater zu Litzmannstadt was a propaganda theater of the Third Reich, and Fifi played major roles there, hiding her Jewish origins. She was present on the stage of Theater zu Litzmannstadt probably to the end of its existence (1944). However, she did not escape the fate of many Jews and was taken to the concentration camp in Germany, where she was subjected to medical experiments and torture. Her body survived, but her psyche did not survive, until the end of her life she lived in total isolation and a fear against people.

The story of Fifi Zastrow (Friderike Falkenberg) was reconstructed a few years ago by Malgorzata Leyko in "Tygiel Kultury" magazine. Malgorzata Leyko asks the question about Fifi Zastrow in her article: How was her life in the city, which on the one hand was a big center of the Nazi's power and on the other became a place of martyrdom of Jews. Three streets from the place where the Theater zu Litzmannstadt was situated was the border of the ghetto. Was the theater the way of salvation for Fifi Zastrow or was the stage her ghetto?.

Fifi's story, her troubles with identity, the discrepancy between how she perceived herself and who she was for the others. A simulation, a play to protect oneself or to hide something in order to survive in the world of the "better ones"... Is this not a still actual strategy in contemporary world? …