Hotel Minerva

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Hotel Minerva, 2 channel video installation. duration 22.08 mins. View of installation, Sheffield, Pam Skelton, 2011.

Hotel Minerva (2011) is a two channel video installation  that re-frames a personal collection of family portraits, public archive images and video to construct a link to places, memories and diasporaric histories, migrations, transmigrations across Europe from the early 20th century to present times. The work recalls mass migration from East Europe at the turn of the 20th century century,  Walter Benjamin’s flight from Nazi occupied France via the other southern ports in mid 20th century France recalling Walter Benjamin’s exile and the plight  of the refugee.

Converging on two major ports Hull and Marseille this work reaches out to past events and specific sites that are marked in history: the condition of the modern exile and migrant made up from retrieved fragments of still and moving images drawn from personal and public archives and new material generated in Hull and Marseille.

Hotel Minerva was commissioned by Jessica Dubow as part of a speculative Interdisciplinary AHRC led by Jessica Dubow, Dr Richard Steadman-Jones and Dr Frances Babbage from the Department of English at Sheffield in a collaboration with three creative practitioners (Eve Beglarian, a New York-based sound and musical composer, Pam Skelton, a video installation artist and Reader at London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and Hannah Fox, a theatre and performance practitioner). The project was supported by the work of the ‘Sheffield Exile Group’, a cross-faculty and interdisciplinary network established and headed by Professor Martial Staub (Department of History, Sheffield).

The exhibition  Archive of Exile was shown at Bank Street Arts, Sheffield in July 2011 and was created as part of the AHRC Speculative Research project ‘Archive of Exile’ who brought two seemingly contrasting entities into a creative meeting. The archive is sedentary, attached to a particular place and time; a protected trove of knowledge. The exile, by contrast, has lost the place or nation they call home. Where the archive is safe, the exile is exposed. Where the archive is at rest, the exile is mobile.

From the First Poem from the Handbook for City-dwellers by Bertolt Brecht, ‘Commentaries on Poems by Brecht’, in Walter Benjamin Understanding Brecht.

Part from your friends at the station
Enter the city in the morning with your coat buttoned up
Look for a room, and when your friend knocks:
Do not, oh do not open the door
Cover your tracks.