The scholars Ruth Mandel and Rachel Lehr are carrying out ethnographic research about site-specific artists’ responses to the Holocaust.
In our new Have Your Say personal essay — Kaddish in Norway: On the trail of Stolpersteine/snublestein/stumbling blocks — they describe what they are finding as they investigate the Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) project by the German artist Gunter Demnig.
Demnig began the project in the mid-1990s as a guerrilla art installation in Berlin. It has grown enormously, and now it is arguably the world’s largest participatory counter-memorial.
Stolpersteine -‘stumbling stones’ – are 10 cm x 10 cm brass plates affixed to cobblestones, bearing the names and dates of birth, deportation, and murder or survival of victims of Nazi Germany; they are installed in the pavement/sidewalk in front of the ‘last residence of choice’ of the person(s) being commemorated. There are now more than 70,000 Stolpersteine located in 24 countries.
Mandel and Lehr started their exploration in Norway and eventually traveled 5,000 km with Demnig, observing and even taking part in the installation ceremonies.