Tag Archives: German memorial tapestry

German Tapestry by Stephan Schenk on Display

 Flandern aus dem Zyklus Kreuzweg von Stephan Schenk. Geschenk von der deutschen Bundesregierung.

Flanders from the Kreuzweg Cycle by Stephan Schenk. A gift from the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The German government have donated a memorial tapestry to the New Zealand government as their nation’s contribution to Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. This artwork is now displayed in the foyer of The Great War Exhibition.

The gift of the tapestry is significant  — a symbol of reconciliation following the two world wars and represents the changed nature of the relationship between New Zealand and Germany encompassing trade, education and culture.

German WW1 Memorial
President of the Federal Republic of Germany His Excellency Dr Steinmeier laying a wreath alongside his wife Ms Elke Büdenbender and the Minister of Defence Ron Mark

In November 2017, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, His Excellency, Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier made a State visit to New Zealand and unveiled a memorial tapestry gifted to New Zealand on behalf of the people of Germany.

The tapestry, titled Flandern (Flanders), is part of the Kreuzweg (Crossroads) series, based on photographs of fourteen First World War battlefield sites in northern France, Belgium, East Prussia, Galicia, Turkey and Slovenia, as well as Tsingtau (China) and Tanga (Tanzania). These tapestries were created to remember the victims of the “primal catastrophe of the 20th century”.

“[This work is] a reminder of the untold misery and horror and was created to remember the victims of this inconceivable catastrophe of the twentieth century.”

— Stephan Schenk, artist.

German Tapestry at Great War Exhibition
His Excellency Gerhard Thiedermann, Ambassador (right), and staff of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany with Flandern, by Stephan Schenk

Conscious of the difficulty in representing the senseless deaths of millions of people, the pictures display a very small part of the earth’s surface, with soil, plants and stones or the rippling surface of the sea. Each tapestry is the size of one grave site.

These few square metres, once soaked with the blood of thousands of soldiers, also provide a focus for remembering single, individual destinies.

Flandern, a German memorial tapestry housed at The Great War Exhibition

Detailed image of a small section of Flandern by Stephan Schenk

“The woven work shows closely observed details of the natural terrain: leaves twigs, earth, grass, water. Nothing here betrays that we are seeing something extraordinary or spectacular.”

Conscious of the difficulty in representing the senseless deaths of millions of people, the pictures display a very small part of the earth’s surface, with soil, plants and stones or the rippling surface of the sea. Each tapestry is the size of one grave site.

Kreuzweg is based on a fundamental conundrum: How to represent the madness of war and visualize its inconceivability. The work has been created to make that which is neither seen, nor visible, emotionally present.

Stephan Schenk mostly works on long-term photography projects. He often travels to places in different countries in order to examine certain aspects in a conceptual way. These ‘Crossroads’ works have been on view at the Fotostiftung Schweiz in Winterthur, Switzerland, and Galerie m Bochum in 2014, at the Dommuseum Hildesheim in 2015 and at the Mauermahnmal in Berlin in 2016.

View the 14 works from the Kreuzweg (Crossroads) series here. Flandern will be on display for the tenure of The Great War Exhibition.