Diana Blok (1952) heeft met deze expositie een vorm gevonden, waarin herinnering, onthulling, emigratie en integratie haar innerlijke wereld weerspiegelen in de heel verfijnde wijze van fotografie, die haar eigen is.
Time Tells – a project by Diana Blok
I began a process of rescuing memories after my father’s death in 1998.
Searching for clues would lead me to discover more of who he was, and as a result, more of who I was. Memories of his past were carried in photographs and negatives stored in boxes. Seven years later my mother followed, leaving behind her personal archive in the form of a precious collection of handmade, delicately designed garments.
Her legacy was embodied in the intricately stitched and embroidered clothes she created for the key moments in our lives: baptism, communion and weddings. But all the while, my Catholic, Argentine mother’s neeedle was patterning secrets; unutterable events of the past. These indelible images would eventually surface and give light to her prophetic words: “El tiempo lo dirá”, thats is, ‘Time will tell.’
My father was a young Dutchman hired by the Turkish Ambassador as his personal assistant. He began in The Hague (1934-1935), and then, for a second term, from 1936 untill 1946, in Buenos Aires. Tall, blond and blue-eyed, he was my mother’s Prince Charming. While married together they raised four daughters. My parents lived a charmed life as, after the war, my father transferred to the Royal Dutch Emassy as a diplomat and rose steadily through the ranks of the Dutch Foreign Service in Columbia, Quatemala and Mexico. By the time he retired, he had accumulated a string of honors including the prestigious ‘Knights of Oranje Nassau’.
Silently, however, my father suffered under the weight of an unacknowledged identity in and after the war years: he was Jewish. He carried alone the knowledge that his parents and only brother were murdered in Auschwitz. My father had escaped the Holocaust through the good grace of the Turkish Ambassador who had re-employed him for the duration of the war. However, in the anti-semitic climate of Argentina, a revelation that he was in fact Jewish would have burst the fairytale bubble of our existence.
My parents came from disparate worlds but they loved each other dearly. For my sisters and me, his tragic story, her inability to acknowledge his roots, and the garments she so lovingly made hold the key to our identity. Without this special past and the repercussions it had in their lives and ours as their children, we would not be who we are today.
In a a most unexpected way during a journey to Istanbul in 2009, I met the children of the Turkish Ambassador, now 80 and 82 years old, (former ambassadors themselves). They had grown up by knowing my father, first in The Hague and later in Buenos Aires. As they told their stories and unlocked some of the mysteries surrounding my father, I knew the time had come for me as a visual artist to tell the story. I heard my mother’s voice: “El tiempo lo dira”.
In a documentary film, cinematographer Sonia Herman Dolz documents my recent encounter with the Turlish Ambassador’s children who shared memoriesabout my father during their 10-year period together.
The photography book is a compilation of more than seventy images inspired by my mother’s delicate handwork, my father’s past and our intricate family history.
The total project is evolving into an exhibition combining photography, film and sound plus a book presentation.
Copyright Time Tells / Diana Blok 2011
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