The Blue Train
The Blue Train, a multi-channel video-photo-text installation, is entered via a frag- ment of a remembered bed-time story that centres on a key phase of the 1939 journey of escape of the artist’s mother at the outbreak of World War II. The young woman, her infant daughter and an unexpected contingent of German troops are on a train to Paris, and, using stills, drawings and video, the journey is traced through the thoughts and feelings of 32 passengers, ancillary witnesses, with whom it may have been shared.
Created in response to images in Ryerson university’s remarkable Black Star Collection of documentary photographs, and to material in the fonds of pho- to-journalist Werner Wolff, the work consists of two large-screen videos viewed as a diptych, the main escape narrative counterpointed with a silent companion piece based on Wolff’s letter and photos on his 1945 return to Germany, and accompanied by the short passenger narratives played randomly on portable tablets interspersed with stills from the same videos. The two journeys, serving as parentheses to World War II, allow the viewer to sense what lay between.