Barbara Loftus

Songs without Words – Images of Memory


Barbara Loftus is a British artist with roots in Berlin. Based on her mother Hildegard´s childhood memories, Barbara Loftus depicts the life of her assimilated Jewish grandparents Herta and Sigismund Basch in Berlin before 1933. She visualizes the horror and terror that disrupted the idyllic, middle class neighborhood of Schöneberg with the Nazis’ rise to power. Hildegard´s parents and brother were deported to Auschwitz on December 14, 1942; she survived by emigrating to Great Britain. Barbara Loftus` mother kept these memories private all her life. Only in old age did she begin to share these traumatic experiences with her daughter.

„Songs without Words“ is a series of works from the perspective of Hildegard as a little girl, who, while hidden under a table, is forced to witness how the SA and furniture packers confiscate the piano, rifle through private items, and remove the contents of the household. Bright spots on empty walls remain where paintings once hung, and dressers and cabinets once stood.

Barbara Loftus feels obligated to pass on the history that befell her family. She achieves this through her paintings, as well as with the help of archival research. At the Landeshauptarchiv in Potsdam she found a record “Sigismund Israel Basch”, “Berlin W 62, Keithstr. 14”, including a household evaluation and registration for “Deterioration of assets (for) emigrated Jews” made by the Deutsche Bank. Barbara Loftus intends to combine the documents with her paintings in one installation.

The exhibition is presented in the context of the 2013 Berlin Theme Year “Diversity Destroyed”. Support is provided by the Ilse-Augustin-Stiftung zur Förderung der bildenden Künstler.