Legacy. Migration. Memory: The Sea Remembers

Exhibition Website

Jan 12 2017 - Mar 5 2017

On January 12, 2016, the Griffin Museum opens with “Beyond the Forest,” an exhibition of photographs by Loli Kantor. This exhibition is shown under the overarching idea of “Legacy. Migration. Memory.”. Two solo exhibits by Loli Kantor and Rosemarie Zens will be featured in the Main Gallery of the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA. Rosemarie Zens’ body of work is called “The Sea Remembers.”

Larry Volk, in the Atelier Gallery at the Griffin, will exhibit “A Story of Rose’s” and Priya Kambli, will exhibit “Kitchen Gods” in the Griffin Gallery. These two artists are also exhibiting work under the “Legacy, Migration. Memory.” umbrella.

Paula Tognarelli, executive director of the Griffin Museum of Photography, says of the exhibitions, “The backdrop of family history and its memories inform identity. Through photographs the artists of “Legacy. Migration. Memory.” share familial resettlement stories. Customs, culture and the individual journeys vary but at heart, the passage to the present is all rooted in legacy.”

Berlin-based photographer, Rosemarie Zens was born in Bad Polzin in Pomerania in 1944, which now with Stalin redrawn borders is called Połczyn-Zdrój, Poland. The name Pomerania is derived from the Slavic word “po more” meaning “land at the sea.”

In March 1945 after World War II, due to a forced exile of all ethnic German inhabitants and the impending arrival of the Russian Army in Pomerania, Zens family zigzagged westward towards Berlin as refugees. Rosemarie’s mother carried her in her arms on horseback. Many succumbed to a frozen death or other dangers on this westerly trek towards their ethnic roots that wasn’t home.

After the Berlin wall fell in 1989, Zens’ mother wrote of her escape from Bad Polzin to Berlin. After translating the journal of her mother’s recollections, Rosemarie Zens decided to retrace those steps that she and her mother took many years ago. She made several journeys.

Zens had many questions about her journey. She asks, “What do images look like that stem from very early impressions, from memories that rise up from deep within, from that place that is at once forming and at the same time giving rise to the well of memories, that were long forgotten? In addition she asks, “Why do I avoid certain places or look beyond them, while other places call out to me?” Zens takes note that, “Images of longing push to the forefront, concealing something incomprehensible, trying to superimpose themselves over a mother’s grief, something the child has always experienced as a void, as a feeling occupied by something unspoken.”

In his review on the book, George Slade, a writer on photography, associated a quote by author W.G. Sebald with Zens’ “The Sea Remembers”. The quote begins, “Going home is not necessarily a wonderful experience. It always comes with a sense of loss, and makes you so conscious of the inexorable passage of time. If you’re based in two places, on a bad day you see only the disadvantages everywhere. On a bad day, returning to Germany brings back all kinds of spectres from the past.”
Photographer Rosemarie Zens is also a poet and essayist. She received her PhD in Modern German Literature at the University of Munich and pursued additional psychoanalytic training in Zurich. She attended the Neue Schule für Fotografie in Berlin. Her work has been represented in photo magazines, at several exhibitions, and in photo books. Her poetry, essays as well as scientific writings have been published in literary magazines, individual volumes and audio-CDs. She has produced five books. 

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

  • Photography
  • European
  • Contemporary
  • Rosemarie Zens

Exhibition Venues & Dates