Olga Ştefan

Vapniarka, drawing by Gabriel Cohen. Courtesy of Ella Cohen and The Future of Memory.

The Concentration Camp Exhibition

The Concentration Camp Exhibition is a research project that will materialize into an essay film documenting Olga Ştefan‘s attempt to recreate an art exhibition that took place shortly after Romania‘s liberation from the fascist Antonescu regime. This 1945 exhibition portrayed life and death in Romanian concentration camps and represented different forms of antifascist resistance performed by the Jewish prisoners. Thus, it also functioned as witness testimony of the artist survivors themselves. It was the first and only exhibition of its kind during the communist period in Romania. With the early death of one of the artists, the fall out of political favor and the emigration of others, the artworks and the artists‘ biographies slipped into obscurity. Olga Ştefan‘s trials, failures, and struggles to gather all the pieces in the Romanian archives and to create a coherent narrative of these forgotten antifascist artists‘ lives and oeuvre will be the starting point in this poetic essay film that will not only bring to light the artists‘ work for the first time in 77 years, but also contemplate politics of memory, turns of history, and the role of art in politics.

Olga Ştefan is a curator, arts writer, documentary filmmaker and researcher, born in Bucharest, raised in Chicago, and currently residing in Zurich. Her work mostly deals with the politics of memory, migration and identity. Ştefan has curated more than thirty international exhibitions in museums, art centers, and galleries and has contributed to magazines such as Art in America, FlashArt, Art Review, Sculpture Magazine and many others. She is the founder of The Future of Memory, the transnational platform for Holocaust remembrance in Romania and Moldova through art and media, where her documentary films can be viewed. Her chapter on the Vapniarka concentration camp appeared in the volume Memories of Terror, 2020, CEEOL Press, Frankfurt.