The 3 October 2017 was the 75th anniversary of the first successful launch of an A-4 (V2) into space. The V2 – a Nazi weapon and space artefact – was the first guided ballistic missile. Its successors are space-launching rockets and intercontinental missiles with nuclear warheads.
Directed by artist Françoise Dupré, DORA PROJECT’s point of origin is WW2 London and V2 victims. They were Londoners and Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp prisoners who assembled the V2s in Germany.
Between September 1944 and March 1945, V2 attacks killed 2,500 Londoners. In Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp, more than 20,000 prisoners died between August 1943 and April 1945.
DORA PROJECT (DP) is an art project that explores the contemporary relevance of history and the performative process of remembrance through the activating of archives and sites of memories. DP’s activities include visits to V2 sites, local commemorative participatory events and exhibitions.
The project follows the wishes of Dupré’s uncle and a Dora survivor, Robert Berthelot (1922-2008), to tell the stories of the concentration camp, the V2 and its engineers. Re-connecting the history of space rockets to its Nazi origin, DP aims to address the ethics of science and technology for war and usage in its aftermath. The project invites us to question and care for our histories, cultures and ethics. It interrogates and contributes to the watchful necessity that is the retracing of our past, for fear of loss and a xenophobic re-writing of history. This is the legacy of the V2 victims.
DP’s first project: DORA PROJECT I (2015-2016), in collaboration with visual and participatory artist Rebecca Snow, was a twelve-month long cross-generational archiving and participatory project based in South East London. It included Commemorative Public Events in Greenwich, New Cross, Peckham and an exhibition at Peckham Platform (April-May 2016). This website provides full details of the project’s activities.
A follow-up project is currently being designed. Informed by the concept of Multidirectional Memory (Michael Rotheberg), DORA PROJECT II will investigate ‘invisible’ memories, peripheral to national and European narratives. In our world of multiple and diasporic cultures, what and where are the polyphonic sites and acts of memory?
Rebecca Snow, Roll Call, 2014. © Rebecca Snow. (Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial)
DORA PROJECT I (2016-2015)
Françoise Dupré and Rebecca Snow thank everyone who came to visit DORA PROJECT I exhibition and participated in the exciting events they hosted with Peckham Platform in 2016. The project, its publication and the exhibition received great positive feedback.
Photographs of the exhibition are on the exhibition page.
For a free copy of the publication contact the project.
Meanwhile do check the website for follow up Conferences, Talks and Events
Françcoise Dupré, New Cross Road, V2 site, 2014. © Françoise Dupré.
DORA PROJECT I was led by artist Françoise Dupré in collaboration with Rebecca Snow, a visual and participatory artist. It was a cross-generational archiving and participatory project that addresses, through art, the contemporary relevance of the history of World War Two and early rocket engineering.. The project aimed to create artworks that critically engage with the politics of visualisation of memory as practice and addressed questions of ethics in art and science.
Dora, known today as Mittelbau-Dora, was the code name given to the Nazi Dora Concentration Camp, located near the town of Nordhausen in Thuringia, Central Germany (1943-1945). A site kept secret because of its armament company Mittelwerk, a vast underground factory that assembled V1 rockets (flying bombs) and V2 rockets (the first ballistic missiles). It is estimated that more than 20,000 prisoners died between August 1943 and April 1945 in the camps of Mittelbau-Dora.
Between September 1944 and March 1945, V2 killed around 2500 Londoners. After WW2, V2 technology was used for the development of space and military American, European Russian and British programmes. While many Londoners have heard about the V2, few know about its origin that contaminates and connect forever space conquest to the concentrationary universe.
Dora Project I was developed through participation and collaboration. This performative approach and practice of memory is central today, while we are confronted with fading traces and memories.
Dora project I was generated in response to the artists’ family histories. Françoise Dupré’s uncle, Robert Berthelot was a French Resistant political prisoner, slave labourer and survivor of Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. Rebecca Snow’s great-grand-father, James Anderson, an industrial chemist, worked for the British Intelligence Objective Sub-Committee (BIOS), recovering German industrial evidences in 1945.
Dora Project I contributes to contemporary debates around the nature and role of memorials and ethics in science and art.
Dora Project I coincided with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of WW2 concentration and extermination camps.
Dora Project was supported by Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Déportation, Commission Dora Ellrich, l’ Association Française Buchenwald Dora et Kommandos and La Coupole Centre d’Histoire et de Mémoire du Nord – Pas-de-Calais, France
Partners: Goldsmiths, University of London, UK, JFS, Peckham Platform
Consultants: Michael Neufeld, Curator of early rocketry, The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, Washington, USA. Laurent Thiery, historien, La Coupole, Centre d’Histoire et de Mémoire du Nord – Pas-de-Calais France. Gretchen Schafft, Public Anthropologist, Department of Anthropology, American University, Washington, USA.
Artist research visit to Mittlebau-Dora Memorials, photos by Rebecca Snow, July 2014