Walter Benjamin’s Suitcase Was Never Found (2009)
A series of photographs - black and white and colour medium format photographs, digital images and negatives that are about research I am doing into the last days of this famous philosopher, writer and cultural commentator, Walter Benjamin, who had to flee occupied Europe during the Second World War.
He supposedly carried a suitcase with him full of objects and maybe a manuscript. My images are about this imagined suitcase. Benjamin carried a supply of morphine with him which he used to commit suicide in September 1940 in despair when he was not allowed to cross the border and complete his journey to the US.
1: Various objects were discovered inside.
2: ID cards and family portraits.
3. Various objects were found in the mountains.
4. The suitcase lay among the grasses.
5. On a Spanish beach.
6. Inside were postcards of Ibiza and Italy.
Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be… one might generalize by saying: the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence.
Walter Benjamin’s Grave via pedroandsimon.
Andrea (pedroandsimon) is doing a photo project on graves. She kindly sent me a few copies of her photos of Benjamin’s Grave in Portbou, Spain, where the philosopher unfortunately committed suicide in 1940.
Andrea also gave me some advice on where to go when I take my own pilgrimage to Portbou this summer.