curated by Tamás Don
photo: Dávid Bíró
Among the items on exhibit in the Jewish Community Museum in Bratislava is a child’s sweater with ladybug patterns. The object, with its dramatic motif, immediately caught my eye. Next to the sweater one finds the following text:
“Jews who managed to escape the deportations and remained in Slovakia in the autumn of 1944 were compelled to go into hiding. Families with young children spent the extreme winter of 1944–45 in the woods, in unheated underground bunkers, under dreadful hygienic conditions, and with only limited food supplies. Professor Pavel Traubner, a well-known neurologist from Bratislava and Honorary President of the Central Alliance of Jewish Communities in Slovakia, was one of these children. For decades, he has kept his childhood sweater as a reminder of the desperate months he spent in hiding.”
The fact that today we know the fate of the sweater and indeed the stories of many other objects is the result of a long process. My work calls attention to some of the events that followed the change of regimes, introducing the people who wore and preserved the sweater, who uncovered its history, and who made it part of the collection in the Jewish Community Museum. By creating a replica of the sweater and retelling the history of the garment in a new context for a new audience, I am in effect making an attempt to keep writing this story.