no more than a breath between there and not there. – Paul Celan, ‘Poems of Paul Celan’, 1968
In 1998 Julia moved into her great aunt’s house in Southern England. In the attic, she discovered a leather suitcase which had belonged to her great aunt’s Jewish husband, Hugo Hecker. In the summer of 1939 this suitcase witnessed Hugo’s escape from Nazi persecution. Most of Hugo’s family stayed behind in Eastern Europe where they perished in the Shoah.
In the house, she also found two small photographs of Hugo’s family: these now constitute their last visual trace. The photographs along with Hugo’s suitcase and it’s contents formed the starting point of the project, which focused on the search for traces. In his life time, Hugo, traumatised by the war, had remained silent about the loss of his family.
Julia began working on the project to break through this silence and to find out how the memory of a family could have been erased from history.
‘Witnessing‘, attempts to remember members of the Hecker family who perished in the Shoah. It draws on two small photographs of the family, which are now their only remaining visual trace.
Searching‘, contains images from Julia’s journey to Poland in 2001, sixty years after the Hecker family disappeared. She returned to their home town hoping to find out more about their fate. Locations photographed include Kazimierz District, Krakow; Fragments of Jewish Ghetto border wall, Krakow; Pl. Bohaterow, Former Jewish Ghetto, Krakow; Old Remu’h Cemetery, Krakow; Ul Rekawka, Former Jewish Ghetto, Krakow; Plaszow Concentration Camp, near Krakow; Village of Strumien (formerly Schwarzwasser); and Auschwitz-Birkenau.
‘Preserving‘, is about holding on to objects and documents for their potential to provide testimony as to what happened to the Hecker family and countless others like them.
In 2002 Julia collaborated with film maker Nerea Martinez de Lecea to produce a short film version of ‘Traces’.