Holocaust Centre North appoints inaugural writer and translator in residence

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Holocaust Centre North appoints inaugural writer and translator in residence

West Yorkshire educational centre welcomes Tom Hastings and Rey Conquer in next stage of Memorial Gestures artistic programme

Exhibition interior, Holocaust Centre North. Photo by Julie Najim
Exhibition interior, Holocaust Centre North. Photo by Julie Najim

The Holocaust educational centre in west Yorkshire has appointed two new artistic residencies for 2024.

Writer Tom Hastings and translator Rey Conquer complete the line up for Holocaust Centre North’s innovative Memorial Gestures programme, based at the University of Huddersfield.

They join visual artists Maud Haya-Baviera, Irina Razumovskaya, Ariane Schick and Matt Smith to create brand new work inspired by the Centre’s archives and in response to its themes and collections around Holocaust remembrance and history.

Alongside the artists, Hastings and Conquer will now be fully immersed in the Centre’s memories, artefacts and accounts covering themes of discrimination, displacement, trauma, migration, loss, memory and hope  – to respond to and translate them through their own, individual creative and artistic practices.

Rey Conquer is a writer working across essay, fiction, poetry and translation, as well as a translation editor and critic. Conquer, who has a PhD in German literature and teaches German literature, film and translation at Queen Mary University of London, said: “I am very excited and honoured to be working with the collections at Holocaust Centre North and to be chosen as the inaugural translator-in-residence.

“I applied for the residency because I am interested in how difficult histories and texts are made available to audiences without being tamed or simplified.

Rey Conquer, Holocaust Centre North

“I want to use the residency to find out how translation can be used to show that the stories and experiences contained in the archive are ‘live’, possessing the power to transform us in the present. It will allow me to think in new ways about how we teach the Holocaust and its legacy in the UK, and to contribute work that allows people to think this through for themselves.”

Tom Hastings, a writer living in Glasgow, lectures in dance at The Place, London, and holds a PhD in history of art from University of Leeds. He writes about performance, forms of protest, and social history; his current research focuses on histories of gesture and decolonisation in Trinidad, India, Ghana, and the UK.

Hastings said: “Reading through the collection of survivors’ stories on Holocaust Centre North’s website, I was drawn to the significance of gesture across letters, photographs, and other materials. The stories led me to reflect on the way details of embodied movement can serve to memorialise experience – something I know from my own grandparents’ story.

The Memorial Gestures programme presents a unique opportunity to inhabit a living archive in dialogue with artists, the team, and the wider community. As writer-in-residence, I will produce an extended essay reflecting on gesture in the collections; in the process, I hope to consider how those sedimented acts transmit experiences of collective belonging, of survival, and of being in relation to the other in the present.”

Tom Hastings, Holocaust Centre North

Holocaust Centre North tells the global story of the Holocaust through more than 120 local stories and materials from survivors who subsequently created new lives in the north of England. Now in its second year, its Memorial Gestures Residency is an original and creative way to bring a new perspective to the collections and bring it to life creatively for future generations.

This is the first year both a translator and a writer have been appointed alongside visual artists to also engage and respond to the collections in this way. The new writer and translator residencies will run in tandem with the artists for the next six months – culminating in a final presentation and exhibition of all the new individual work created by all six residency holders at a gallery in Huddersfield in September.

Andrew Key, Holocaust Centre North development co-ordinator said: “Memorial Gestures is our attempt to grapple with the question of how we find new ways to remember the Holocaust in a time when the first generation of survivors are no longer with us to share their stories.”

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