"Vergangenheitsbewältigung (Struggling to Come to Terms with the Past)"
© 2009 Quinn Jacobson

German Cleaning Woman (Putzfrau). 2007Living in Europe/Germany has radically disoriented me. Like the photographs I make, it’s created a kind of temporal confusion in my life. Things may seem okay, but a closer and deeper look, will reveal something very different. The words of William Faulkner enter my mind when I think about this, “Past isn’t dead. It is not even past.” Nowhere else are those words more true than in Germany.

This country has both challenged me and threatened me. It's brought out the best in me and the worst. It's illuminated the positive attributes of human beings struggling with memory, difference, justice, and identity. And it's also the place where the very worst in humanity was revealed.

The images that I've made throughout Europe reflect these feelings and emotions. Working with glass, cyanide and the past, I found profound and deep connections to the ideas in my heart/head and the images on the glass. They are very subjective and subtle; however, the connection to humanity is universal. Every human being has felt the pain of rejection or the sting of being different and not being accepted for who they are. I've tried to explore both sides of the issues here. My only intent for these photographs is to allow the viewer to see, symbolically, "the other", and "the perpetrator" in the faces, landscapes and objects of Europe.

In more ways than one, the title of this work is as much about my struggle to come to terms with the past, and to understand it, as it is about the German’s struggle. My hope is that these images can be a catalyst for discourse on this topic. It’s far from being over.

Nie wieder.



"Portraits from Madison Avenue" and "Vergangenheitsbewältigung" were combined, a total of 88 photographs, and shown at Centre Iris Gallery for Photography. The exhibition was up from March to June, 2010 in Paris, France. It was called, "Glass Memories".