Paula Doepfner – Darkness at the break of noon

Kupferstich-Kabinett, Study Room, Museum of Drawings, Dresden State Art Collections

9 November 2023 – 28 January 2024

It’s no coincidence that Paula Doepfner’s minutely detailed drawings recall nerve cells and (estranged) regions of the brain, for they are based on sketches made while observing autopsies and neurosurgical procedures at the Charité hospital in Berlin. From these sketches Doepfner slowly builds up dense textual images by stringing together threads of tiny letters on fine tracing paper. Barely visible to the naked eye, these letters precisely transcribe selected passages from source texts dealing with some of the darkest aspects of human existence. Among her sources is a book titled “Vergiss Deinen Namen nicht – Die Kinder von Auschwitz“ (Never Forget Your Name: The Children of Auschwitz), the result of journalist Alwin Meyer’s tireless search for the traces of Auschwitz survivors. Other text-based images by Doepfner draw on the Istanbul Protocol, a UN clinical manual on the investigation and documentation of torture, and on literary texts by the likes of Anne Carson, Paul Celan and Robert Musil.

Dr Stephanie Buck

Press release for the exhibition “Paula Doepfner – Darkness at the break of noon“ at the Kupferstich-Kabinett Dresden.

Translation by Jonathan Blower