The trial of Adolf Eichmann took place in Jerusalem between April 11, 1961 and May 31, 1962. Eichmann was indicted with 15 criminal charges, among them war crimes and crimes against humanity, to which Eichmann pleaded: “'In the sense of the indictment - not guilty.” He denied any ideological conviction, but insisted that he was only following orders. The trial was followed live for its duration by a huge audience in front of radios and for the very first time in front of Televisions. The courtroom became an international stage for the discussion of Eichmann’s responsibility for the Holocaust, for the state of Israel’s public face as a modern democratic nation-state and for the event of the Shoa itself, that had until then not been publically told.
Andrea Geyer’s work “Criminal Case 40/61: Reverb“ is based on the transcripts and video documentation as well as other historical documents of the trial, like Hannah Arendt’s book “Eichmann in Jerusalem. A Report on the Banality of Evil.” The six-channel video installation features six characters in an abstracted trial scene: Accused, Defense, Judge, Prosecution, Reporter and Audience. Each character is embodied by the same performer: Wu Ingrid Tsang. The performer re-enacts not so much the historical figures but the traces they left behind. This form of re-enactment raises complex questions addressing responsibility, truth, justice and the notion of Evil and how they extend forward and backward in time within only one person. Through modes of fictionalization – i.e. selecting, enacting, staging and configuring historical documents – the work opens a dialectical process between the individual as embodiment of history and an abstraction of the individual as universal. It is neither an illusionistic personification of historical facts and characters and a simple re-enactment of history, nor is it an attempt to challenge the Eichmann’s trial. “Criminal Case 40/61: Reverb“ is an effort to propose terms and strategies with which one can rethink the past in present times and that have the possibility to exceed a mere re-staging.