Each year in March, Loyola University Maryland presents another speaker in the Jerome S. Cardin Memorial Lecture series, “The Art of Dialogue: Jewish Christian Relations in a Post-Shoah World”. The responsibility for finding the speaker rotates between the school’s academic departments and this year it fell to the Fine Arts department. They selected Bjorn Krondorfer, an artist and professor of religious studies at St. Mary’s College in Maryland. Krondorfer linked his lecture to an exhibition in Loyola’s Fine Arts Gallery called, “Karen Baldner and Bjorn Krondorfer, Dialogue through the Arts: A Jewish-German Exploration”.
Krondorfer is a German born artist who has spent the past ten years making art about Jewish/German dialogue with his partner Karen Baldner. She is also German born, but unlike Krondorfer, she is Jewish. Many of the works in “Dialogue through the Arts” include text or are in book form. For example, with/drawing: a triptych is a multimedia installation depicting 3 sets of disembodied hands typing on typewriters. Long shreds of paper enter the typewriter roller and emerge as whole. The book heimat is a handmade book that includes images of old photographs, European maps, and text alluding to memory.
Memory was one of the key points of Krondorfer’s Cardin Memorial Lecture on March 25, 2012, along with reconciliation and restoration (as an astute audience member pointed out during the question and answer period). In regards to the Jewish-Christian dialogue, Krondorfer said that memory is a way to take inventory of spiritual ideas. Remembrance itself is a spiritual act. Finally, reconciliation is not the same as forgiveness but being strong enough to do it can lead to healing. During the lecture Krondorfer showed slides of some of his and Balder’s work. This served to deepen both the meaning of the artwork and the lecture. The books, prints and installations shown reflected Krondorfer’s main points and provided a way to appreciate and contemplate the detail of artworks on a larger scale.