Berkeley, CA – The Danube Exodus: The Rippling Currents of the River by Péter Forgács & the Labyrinth Project, an interactive installation, opens on September 12, 2005. Award-winning Hungarian documentary filmmaker Péter Forgács presents this multimedia installation that explores the displacement of ethnic minorities during World War II. Visitors to The Danube Exodus installation are immediately immersed in three interwoven historical narratives projected on five screens and accessible through a touchscreen monitor interface. One narrative tells of Eastern European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution in 1939, trying to reach a ship on the Black Sea that will carry them to Palestine. The second story, set in 1940 following the Soviet re-annexation of Bessarabia, tells of émigré German farmers abandoning their adopted homeland to return to the “safety” of the Third Reich, but eventually being relocated in occupied Poland. Captain Nándor Andrásovits, an amateur filmmaker who documented these voyages, transported both groups along the Danube River. Andrásovits and the Danube are the subjects of the third story.
Based on Forgács film, The Danube Exodus, the installation premiered at the Getty Research Institute at the Getty Center in 2002. The project grew out of a collaboration between Forgács, well known for his compelling documentaries based on found footage from Europe in the 1930s – 40s, and the creative team of the Labyrinth Project, an art collective and research initiative on interactive cinema and database narrative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for Communication. Rosemary Comella, Kristy H.A. Kang and Scott Mahoy of the Labyrinth Project designed the interface in collaboration with Péter Forgács and project director Marsha Kinder.
The exhibition then traveled to the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany, as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona, and the Helsinki Museum of Contemporary Art (Kiasma). The Magnes exhibition marks its return to California.
The Danube Exodus’s mesmerizing sound track by sound designer Jim McKee of Earwax Productions includes ambient sounds of the river and harbor, the mechanical rhythms of ships’ engines, regional music from the period, songs and prayers of the refugees, voiceovers of the captain and his passengers and the haunting minimalist music of composer Tibor Szemzš who has collaborated with Forgács on all of his previous films.
On September 11, the Magnes will host a conversation between Forgács, Larry Rinder, dean of graduate studies at California College of the Arts, and Larry Abramson, an Israeli artist currently working on an invitational installation for the Magnes that also opens on September 12. Additional programming is being created in collaboration with San Francisco Cinematheque and the Pacific Film Archive.
Additionally, the Magnes will host a colloquium on October 30 discussing Forgács work. Presenters will include: Alla Efimova, chief curator of the Magnes; Bill Nichols, professor of cinema, San Francisco State University; and Michael Roth, president of the California College of the Arts. The event will cost $8 for members and $10 for non-members. The colloquium will be followed by the premier reading of “Rachel Marker, Franz Kafka and Alice Sommer,” the latest play by Moira Roth, professor of art, Mills College.