For as long as I can remember, I would sit at my grandmother’s dining room table and eat matzoh ball soup while she told me stories about how she and her three sisters escaped Jewish persecution and hid from the Nazis during WWII. She would recount these memories, often non-sequentially, and I would try my best to etch every detail into my brain in hopes of eventually being able to piece it all together. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never fully understand the experience my grandmother and her sisters went through but a couple of years ago, I had an opportunity to come as close as I ever would.
The film on display here is a documentation of my family trip to Northern Italy, visiting the town and convent where my grandmother and her three sisters were hidden from the nazis during WWII. Our journey was prompted by an invitation from community members of the town who hoped to reunite us with the families who had protected the four girls during this time. Two of the Four sisters (shown in the film), were able to make the trip back — Goldy and Helena — this would be the first time they had returned since they were little girls. We were greeted by entire communities: the townspeople, the nuns at the convent, the children that attended the school in this complex, family members of those who were responsible for keeping the girls safe and more. Everyone came together to commemorate their story.
Many individuals were responsible for keeping my family alive, but over time, the figures that stuck with me the most were the nuns, shown in this film, that kept the girls secret and safe in a bomb shelter basement of the convent for months.
The physical strips of film you see before the screen are 506 frames of the attic of the convent. For a short moment, I broke off from my family’s tour of the complex to explore a little and discovered this very dusty old room. I found myself feeling overwhelmed by the idea that, while the sisters were confined to the lowest point of the building, by chance, I had discovered the highest — staring out of the window with a beautiful view — something they probably never had the opportunity to embrace. Enduring their prison allowed me to be in the same place decades later experiencing freedom.
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Julia Sub is a curator and multimedia artist living in NYC. She graduated from Bennington College in 2015 with a concentration in media theory, film and dance. Her work often explores the physical relationship between technology and memory. Julia spends much of her time working towards cultivating a community of young artists in New York City under the name Slow Burn NYC (@slowburn_nyc) through pop-up group art exhibitions featuring local and international artists.