New York

Su Friedrich


Su Friedrich’s The Ties That Bind, 1984, is a scrutiny of both a mother/daughter relationship and the demands of national identity. That the nation delineating this identity is Germany in the ’30s and ’40s ominously multiplies the problematics of nationalism: the ties that bind are not only the supposed benevolences of motherhood, but also the repressive dictates of the Fatherland. Friedrich, the daughter of a German Catholic mother and an American serviceman, traveled to Germany in 1982 to shoot footage of its monumental sites of oppression—Dachau, the Berlin Wall, and so on. She juxtaposes these scenes with found footage of wartime Ulm, her mother’s hometown, and accompanies both groups of images with her mother’s photographic and verbal accounts of the Nazi regime under which she grew up, the Allied bombings, and her marriage to an American. This allows the maternal storyteller to

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