Böhmische Dörfer

Klassifikation | Classification:

Autor(en) | Author(s): 
Saemmer, Alexandra
Werk-URL | Work URL: 
Jahr der Erstveröffentlichung | Year of original publication: 
Sprache(n) | Language(s): 
Autoren-Webseite(n) | Author's website(s): 
Englische Beschreibung | English description: 

This piece is about the “March of Death” of the Sudeten Germans during the winter of 1945, a historical event in which German families who lived in Brno were forcibly evacuated and marched 40 miles to the Austrian border, resulting in many deaths. A descendant of survivors from that march, Saemmer evokes the difficulty of grasping and reconstructing this traumatic portion of family history by writing, positioning, and mapping a way through a spatially arranged text in a presentation software called Prezi. Böhmische Dörfer thus is part of a recent turn of younger German writers and artists towards the experiences of expulsion (“Vertreibungsliteratur”), which has been discussed controversially as a distinct genre of literature.
Prezi is a spatial presentation tool, which allows for placement, scaling, and visual navigation of textual and other objects on an “infinite” canvas. Saemmer uses it to place a textual layer over a video of a march in Winter with thunder-like sounds of war in the background. The arranged texts can be explored as the reader desires: One option is to place the video on full screen and auto-play (the reader can choose from segments of 4, 10 or 20 seconds length). The sequence that unfolds makes clever use of the language, recombining lines to distinct effects, and making meaningful use of position (as in the use of the word “here”). After reading the sequence Saemmer has composed, the reader can explore the work by zooming in and out to appreciate details and get a sense of the big picture in this powerfully emotional piece.
In addition, there are two other ways to experience this work: The reader can either use the navigation arrows at the bottom of the screen for jumping from one text fragment to another in a pre-defined order. Or s/he can explore the work by moving around freely in the window with the mouse and zooming in and out with the scroll wheel. 

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