Ira Hoffecker


Ira Hoffecker                                                                                                                       Artist Statement



My paintings are informed by the different identities cities take on over a period of time.

I am interested in how different societies transform and change city spaces over the course of the centuries. My work examines the relationships between people and cities by responding to constant change, reconstruction and restoration in the urban landscape.

Decay, erasure, covering, revealing and rebuilding take place at the same time and are part of my painting practice. I see my process of covering as a metaphor for forgetting and suppressing the past. The process of revealing and sanding the surface down alludes to a process of remembering and acknowledging, reconciling historic events. In many of my paintings I use layers of resin which physically separate one layer of paint from the previous one, and create actual and perceptual depth. Those layers are equivalent to the archaeological strata in the evolution of a city. Places are overlaid with multiple histories, layers of paint cover and obscure but each coat is also informed by the previous layer.

I adopt geometric shapes inherent in architecture and maps from different times in history that provide the basis of my compositional language. Studying history books, maps and photographs, as well as digesting the city by walking the streets, all inform my understanding of the identity of a place.

On a personal level, my paintings embody my own memories and the cities’ atmospheres, which I am translating through shapes, colours and lines: marks that articulate the physicality of painting. I use painting to explore the city’s evolution and add my own experience to the context. 



Research Statement:

In recent work, I researched the six different political governments and/or regimes and manifold identities the city of Berlin experienced during the past 150 years.

In my current research, I am looking at different ways I can investigate the diverse identities of the German society over time. In my painting work I overlay maps of distinct time periods and refer to buildings or institutions that were erased in the past.

I am interested in how Germans deal with collective memory, with forgetting and suppressing the past as opposed to remembering and trying to come to terms with the past. My heritage is German and therefore this memory is my past.

In my current research work I am investigating and comparing the work of Christian Boltanski’s site-specific and permanent installation The Missing House in Berlin from 1990, Shimon Attie’s site specific photo installation The Writing on the Wall also in Berlin’s Scheunenviertel, from 1991, and Susan Hiller’s J-Street Project, a film and a photo series from all over Germany from 2002 to 2005.

I have also started to create a video. I juxtapose images from the contemporary right wing extremist situation in Germany with the Holocaust. I overlay images of the destroyed cities in Syria with the audio of a poem by Holocaust survivor Paul Celan, propounding to a new genocide. I am looking at singular ways I can impart my understanding of those particular identities.  This new video is a further development of my previous film and photo series pertaining to genocide. I created a film about Berlin and a photo series referring to 12 different genocides.