Hidden in Plain Sight
Letters from Bunny Burson’s Grandmother Inspire New Series Zeitgeist • March 7–April 25 by Sally Schloss | Photography by Jerry Atnip
t is not uncommon for people who have lived through horrific tragedy and loss to distance themselves from the past and be unwilling to talk about it. This is as true for war veterans, or victims of abuse, as it is for people fleeing their homelands to find refuge. This was particularly true for the Holocaust generation. Some of these survivors—mothers, fathers, and children—kept their harrowing stories secret. Their wish for their families was inhabit the present, live for the future. These spoken and unspoken messages about not looking back were fierce—“Better you shouldn’t know.”
Bunny Burson’s show Hidden in Plain Sight, opening March 7 at Zeitgeist gallery, resonates with this personal and collective experience. For the past five years Burson’s work has been defined by the emotional topography of hidden letters found in her mother’s attic, one hundred of them, written in German between 1939 and 1941. These letters, from her maternal grandparents to their son and daughter in Memphis, Tennessee, document the life and hopes of people desperate to escape the encroachment of the Nazis. Until Burson discovered them, in 2009, she didn’t know they existed, nor anything about the story they told.
March 2015 | 25