Traces are a connection between past and presence. In her new installation Anton, Sonya Schönberger
adopts a non sentimental approach as she sheds light on the consequences from bygone occurrences
to the present day and searches for a reality in the state of the past, which happens in the
awareness of being not more than an approach.
For her first solo show in New York at Cuchifritos Gallery, Schönberger pursues her investigations
into the custody of family memory. In Germany, nearly every family to this day carries individual
memories dating back to the Second World War. Whereas for decades after the surrender in 1945
Germany fell silent of the events that had taken place under the Third Reich, the following
generations felt the urge to express and understand the past in particular within their own family
contexts. Essential questions continuously are raised with regard to guilt, innocence and the
perpetrator-victim discourse. With the passing of time, more and more information emerged through
personal accounts as well as unspoken narratives that bore visible scars, photo albums and objects
that came to the surface.
Schönberger's Balmoral residency in New York was dedicated in part to engaging into discussion with
US based German individuals and families who witnessed the Second World War; these interviews feed
into the pursuit of the artist's larger and ongoing oral history research project.
Deeply marked by the war, Schönberger's grandfather Anton left a number of photographs from when
he served as a soldier for the Wehrmacht in occupied France. The five black and white photographs
exhibited by the artist at Cuchifritos along with a piece of shrapnel are a legacy from her
grandfather. Through an unexpected arrangement of these found objects, Schönberger creates an
allegory of the complexity of the consequences of war, the traumas of a whole nation and their
impact on the coming generations. In the end, Schönberger's highly personal viewpoint transforms
the discourse into something precisely universal.
Text by Christof Zwiener, July 2012.
Photos by Astrid Busch.
List of worksEssensausgabe (text by Colette Urban)
Bunkerbau (text by Charlotte Cosson)
Brief (text by Argot Murelius)
Im Wasser (text by Mirjam Brusius)
Geschütz (text by Jodi Waynberg)
5 original black and white photographs taken at the Western Front in France during 1943 and ’44,10 3/8 x 11 3/8, framed
14. August 1944, shrapnel which wounded Anton, wax, 2012, unique
Agnes, colored photograph, 37 3/8 x 25 3/8, framed, New York 2012