Trafostacja Sztuki w Szczecinie ul. Świętego Ducha 4 Wto-Czw & Nie / Tue-Thu & Sun 11:00-19:00 Pt-Sob / Fri-Sat 11:00-21:00


Exhibition at Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt

curators: Stanisław Ruksza, Kuba Szreder

scientific collaboration: Aleksandra Janus

coordination from Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt: Katja Janitschek (curatorial team of the museum)


Thu 04 Aug 2022

Natalia Romik Hideouts. The Architecture of Survival

Fri 05 Aug 2022 —
Sun 06 Nov 2022

Natalia Romik Hideouts. The Architecture of Survival

Thu 29 Feb 2024
opening / Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt
Fri 01 Mar 2024 —
Sun 01 Sep 2024
exhibition / Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt

See also

In 2022, Natalia Romik’s exhibition was on view at TRAFO Center for Contemporary Art in Szczecin and Zachęta – National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, and it was a huge success attendance wise. The show was awarded the Architectural Award of the President of Warsaw, and it was named the Architectural Event of 2022. For her research on the hiding places built and used by Jews during the Holocaust, Natalia Romik was honored with one of the most important historical awards worldwide – the Dan David Prize, granted by Dan David Foundation and Tel Aviv University for groundbreaking achievements in the field of science, technology, culture and social activities.

Natalia Romik’s exhibition is an artistic tribute to survival architecture, the hiding places built and used by Jews during the Holocaust. They used tree hollows, wardrobes, urban sewers, caves or empty graves to create temporary shelters. In the exhibition rooms of the Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt, mirror casts of nine hiding places from Poland and present-day Ukraine are presented. The sculptural forms are accompanied by an exhibition presenting the results of interdisciplinary research carried out by Natalia Romik and Aleksandra Janus together with a team of anthropologists, historians, archaeologists and urban explorers.

Artistically modifying models of the hiding places, which by definition must remain invisible to the unauthorised eye, Romik plays with visibility as an essential property of their architectural form. The tragic history of the Holocaust is the starting point for a universal reflection on methods of survival in situations of existential threat, their bodily, social and architectural dimensions. The installation pays tribute to the daily toil of those in hiding and those who provided hiding places, their creativity, solidarity, and will to live, often overlooked in the tradition of heroic commemorations that celebrate mainly heroes and leaders. It also problematises the theme of commemorating invisible architecture which, despite its invisibility, is an important historical testimony. At the same time, models of the hiding places connote a place of human seclusion. They can also be read in a broader existential perspective, such as the tragedy of refugees and giving them shelter during migration or persecution in countries threatened by military conflicts.

The exhibition reflects on fundamental problems of architecture and social coexistence, such as the relationship between form and function or the design and use of space. The hiding places were often created ad hoc, out of the need of the moment, in places originally unsuitable for it. They are a testament to the architectural creativity of users who had to secure the basic needs of sustaining life — sometimes for many years — with minimal resources, without being able to radically alter the space available to them. Attics, cellars, caves, trees or even tombs were given a completely new function, the condition of which was to maintain a semblance of their previous form — to provide effective protection, the attic had to look like an ordinary attic and the tree like an ordinary tree.

The exhibition is at the same time a summary of the research process carried out using an interdisciplinary repository comprising architectural and artistic techniques, archival research and social science methods. The project is part of a broader trend of reflection on the cognitive potential of architecture and art, using it to reflect on the community established in situations of threat — be it political, economic or climatic.

The exhibition in Frankfurt is accompanied by a book in German and English, published by Hatje Cantz.