MY AUSCHWITZ STATE OF MIND: A study of the nature of emergence of a text in relation to Auschwitz
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This thesis uses practice-based research to ask how I can write a textual deep map from an investigation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. As a key part of the research, I made repeated visits to the environs of Auschwitz-Birkenau, walking and cycling extensively around the area in a search for contemporary fragments in the landscape, for example buildings, routes, sites, landmarks, place names, signposts and found objects. I used my own collection of guides, documents, textual, cartographic and photographic fragments and other ephemera related to the town and the Auschwitz museum in addition to support from the Auschwitz Museum itself and external archives such as the Arolsen Archives (“International Center on the Nazi Era - Arolsen Archives,” n.d.) and the Weiner Holocaust Library (“Home - The Wiener Holocaust Library” n.d.) in London. These all acted as points of departure as I embarked on making my deep map. The research translates into a complex textual map of my subject combining autoethnographic stories with tales from psychogeographical drift, non-fiction examinations of place and semi-fictionalised histories. The research is presented as two conjoined texts, one a form of creative non-fiction and the other a critical reflexion, which between them constitute an examination of how a place as imbued with meaning as Auschwitz can be written about in a new way. I refer to the writings of a variety of writers, philosophers and theorists, including Giorgio Agamben’s spatial grey area, or soglia , Walter Benjamin’s ‘alternative model for organising things in the field of knowledge’ and Charlotte Delbo‘s entrances, exits, boundaries and markers that delineate Birkenau. My process is deeply personal and predicated on a form of personal exposure to the landscape with few specific notions or processes of exploration. A process of constant sorting is fundamental to my production as I examine place as a series of complex, palimpsestic texts.
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