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Resistance

Created by Liz Crow
Filmed drama and documentary, 2008
Live durational performance, 2009
Moving image installation, 2009
With audio description, captions, BSL interpretation and transcripts

About

In September 1939, the Nazis instituted their first official programme of murder. Known as Aktion-T4, it targeted disabled people and  became the blueprint for the Final Solution to wipe out Jews, gay people, gypsies and other social groups. With a rise in hate crime, disabled children still excluded from mainstream schools, and over 340,000 disabled people living in institutions, disabled people still experience those historical values as a daily threat.

In 2008 writer and director Liz Crow developed Resistance, a 12-minute short film, to highlight these issues for a modern audience. Set in Germany in 1939, it follows Elise, a patient who sweeps an institution for disabled people. She doesn’t speak and the staff assume she doesn’t understand, but she watches everything, including the buses of patients that leave full and return empty.

Resistance  toured  with its companion film Resistance Conversations, forming part of Resistance on Tour, a moving image installation project, which travelled from 2010-14 to key cities in the UK, Dublin and Washington DC’s Kennedy Center. Beginning with Hitler’s authorisation of the Aktion-T4 programme, the installation chronicles the journey to today, where  hate crime, increased pre-natal screening and abortion and a race to assisted suicide challenge the worth of disabled people’s lives and their right to exist.

In August 2009, Resistance extended its reach to a durational performance on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth as part of Antony Gormley’s One & Other project. Seated on her wheelchair, Liz donned full Nazi regalia to draw attention to the anniversary of this hidden history and the message it holds for people today. The performance was featured in The Guardian’s Trafalgar Top Ten on the plinth, whilst a spokesperson for One & Other said Twitter had “gone ballistic”.

Watch films (see left of page): Resistance drama; Resistance: the historical background; Resistance: audience and venue experiences.

 

Awards

Resistance on Tour

Liverpool Daily Post Arts Award, Best Small Exhibition, 2009

University of Bedford Union wins Higher Education Students’ Union of the Year plus Campaign of the Year 2012 for its hosting of Resistance

Daily Post Arts Award, 2009

Visit Belfast’s Top 10 for the Weekend, 2014

Resistance on the Plinth

The Guardian’s Trafalgar Top Ten on the plinth

Stills

  • Perched on the edge of a dormitory bed, Lou makes herself small and sits with her hands on her lap. Her brow is drawn and her eyes look deep in fear.
  • Bertha sits on the edge of a dormitory bed. She stares at her feet, lost in thought.
  • A profile photo in close up of one of the extras. Framed against the soft yellow of a distant wall, she gazes far distance, deep in thought.
  • Mat Fraser crouches to the right of the frame, his shadow reflected large on the wall behind him.
  • A group of four inmates gather round together. Three perch in a row on a bed, leaning towards another who sits on a neighbouring bed with her legs stretched out in front of her and arms extended behind her for support. All of them gaze far distance, their expressions grim.
  • A close up of one of the inmates. He sits on the edge of a bed, wearing an ill-fitting white fabric top and a black beret, his face written with anxiety.
  • An office, dressed in a 1930s grey tweed suit, stands in the middle of the ward examining a typed list on her  clipboard. Behind her, inmates sit or lie on dormitory beds.
  • An inmate sits on a bed and rests up against the wall behind her, a window to her right. She wears white headscarf and floral dress and gazes far distance.
  • Two of the inmate extras sit on a bed between takes, both gazing far distance. One, a man dressed in a grey shirt and ripped green trousers, sits facing the camera. The other, a woman dressed in a grey cardigan and a checkered skirt, sits with her back to him.
  • Inmate Otto, is wrestled to the ground outside the institution by two orderlies. Otto cries out as the nurse looks on in distress.
  • Inmate Otto is sprawled on the ground outside the institution, an orderly pinning him down in a necklock. A second orderly in white coat and red Nazi armband kneels down. In the background the nurse and Elise watch helplessly.
  • As inmates Thomas and Amelie cling to each other, the Orderly wraps his arms around Thomas’ chest to haul him from her.
  • The Nurse stands with her hands on her hips, dressed in a pale blue nurse's outfit and white apron, a small Nazi swastika badge on her lapel.
  • During the bus loading scene, inmates Thomas and Amelie cling to each other, strain written on their faces.
  • During the bus loading scene, a young woman in a grey 1930s suit, turns towards the right of the frame, her hair pulled tight into a bun. She clutches a clipboard and pencil to her chest. In the background stands a man wearing a Nazi swastika armband.
  • Production still. A nurse leads five of the inmates out of the institution. One is on crutches.
  • A man in a grey military style outfit and wearing a Nazi swastika armband stands, arms crossed, looking at the camera.
  • Actor Canice Bannon, who plays the Orderly, between takes. He sits in an armchair holding a sherry glass. He has slicked back hair, and wears a white shirt, a black waistcoat and tie emblazoned with a swastika.
  • Photograph: A green vintage bus is in the background, a camera set up and crew busily preparing for a shot. Two white-coated orderlies stand near the bus. Terry looks skywards. In the foreground the nurse holds a cup of tea and watches the preparations.
  • Photograph: In foreground, Alex balances a heavy camera on one shoulder. Behind him the inmate actors assemble ready to be herded from institution doors and into the bus. One man sits on a 1930s canvas-seated wheelchair.
  • In a black box space, an audience of three watches the historical drama on a large screen. The shot of the institution forecourt appears suspended in pitch dark.
  • An audience watches the drama on the large screen suspended in pitch dark space. Filmed from above, a woman, dressed in a shabby pink dress and cardigan, sweeps a dark path across a large swathe of gravel.
  • In a dark gallery space, the film on the first screen has ended and the screen shows bright white. Audience members move around the side of the screen into the space behind.
  • In the darkened gallery beyond the first screen, Lou is projected in close up, shown in a domestic setting, greenery visible in the window behind her.
  • An audience sits in front of the second screen, watching Sophie projected in close-up, shown in a domestic setting, greenery visible in the window behind her.
  • In the darkened gallery beyond the first screen, Jamie is projected in close up, shown in a domestic setting, greenery visible in the window behind him.
  • In the darkened space, pools of light illuminate a montage of photographic portraits printed onto green banners which drop ceiling to floor.
  • A medium shot shows a banner illuminated by a pool of light: a montage of faces against a green background, looking out to meet the audience gaze.
  • A stylised, painterly image, the soft-brown stone of the plinth and buildings behind it against a technicolour blue sky with dark grey clouds. The text One & Other, large in white capitals, a faint grey figure standing behind it, sits on the top of the plinth.
  • A close-up screenshot, the SkyARTS logo in the top left corner, shows a seated figure on the plinth, the wheels of a chair just visible, and draped from head to toe in white fabric.
  • Another SkyARTS screenshot. Liz, seated on her wheelchair, pulls away the white sheet to reveal black Nazi uniform, with its red swastika armband.
  • A close-up screenshot, the SkyARTS logo in the top left corner, shows Liz on her wheelchair on the plinth and wearing a black Nazi uniform.
  • A SkyARTS screenshot shows Liz on her wheelchair and in black Nazi uniform holding aloft a red flag with black text.
  • A SkyARTS screenshot shows Liz, on her wheelchair and dressed in a plain black t-shirt, holding aloft a large red flag with black text.
  • A SkyARTS screenshot shows Liz, on her wheelchair and dressed in a plain black t-shirt, holding aloft a large red flag with black text, against a deep black sky.
  • The installation poster shows an image from Resistance on the Plinth, Liz Crow seated on her wheelchair dressed in Nazi uniform, looks out to meet the viewer's gaze. The image is monochrome, the figure set to the far left of the poster, against a wild sky backdrop, only the swastika armband picked out in red. The word 'Resistance', in the same red, is bold on the remaining space of the poster, with the subtitle 'Which way the future?' in black.
  • A group of five people from the production team gather around a weathered bronze memorial plaque set into pavement. Behind them are parked cars and the parkland trees of Tiergartenstrasse. Three votive candles have been set on the memorial.
  • An archive photograph showing the outside of an elegant villa, large windows, a balcony and a sweeping staircase to the raised front door.
  • An archive photograph shows an old-fashioned bus, its windows blacked out, a Nazi eagle on the side. Three men pose for the photograph: one sits on the high wheel arch, another leans against it, a third leans out from the front passenger window.
  • A block paving driveway with mown lawns either side leads to a four storey yellow-brown brick institution, a row of half-basement windows running the length of the building.
  • A close up of the outside of one of a lower ground floor window, whited out and with a metal grill over it. On the ground are scatted wood chippings and leaves from nearby planting frame the window.
  • The outside of the garage, built from planks of wood, with three sets of double doors doors, each with high window panels.
  • A photograph shows a cavernous barn-like wooden structure dwarfs a door open to the outside where people peer in.
  • A photograph taken through the doorway into a medium sized room with white tiled walls and black and white chequered floor. A narrow green pipe runs across the ceiling to a shower head. On the wall is a radiator and a round fisheye mirror which reflects back the whole space to those outside the room.
  • A close up of a black and white tiled floor. Across the floor is a track of water stain and limescale, which passes by a small square drainage grid.
  • An archive photograph shows a round fisheye mirror which reflects the white tiles and black and white floor of the empty chamber
  • A glass brick set into a wall gives a misty view through to the chamber, the round fisheye mirror hanging on the far wall.
  • A small room with rough limewashed stone walls and rough stone floor, a small window up high. In the centre is a grey stone table with raised sides, a drainage pipe at one end which runs to the floor.
  • Photograph showing a large photographic reproduction placed against a wall showing an old-fashioned brick bread oven, it doors open.
  • An archive photograph shows an old-fashioned hospital ward tightly packed with rows of empty metal-framed beds. A member of staff makes up one of the beds.
  • An archive photograph shows six men, ranging in age from thirties to fifties, wearing suits and ties, sitting in a row on benches under a tree in a park. Turned to the camera, their faces are neutral.
  • An archive photograph showing a wood panelled dining room, long tables covered in white cloths. Around twenty staff members sit, turned to the camera, wearing a mixture of white coats, civilian clothes and uniforms.
  • A monochrome archive postcard entitled ‘Hartheim Crew Excursion’ shows photographs of staff in civilian clothes looking relaxed. In one image, a group of about thirty staff, young and middle-aged, are grouped around the front of a bus in open countryside before they board. A second group shows a smaller group in front of the bus, with others boarded, and snow on the ground. The third image shows the bus crammed with staff, looking towards the camera for a holiday snap.
  • A montage of ten monochrome portraits.
  • A gothic institutional building built high above a small town, black smoke streaming from its chimney.

Further Reading

Tour History

  • Resistance On Tour

    • Belfast

      Tues 21 Oct to Sun 2 Nov 2014

      Harland & Wolff HQ & Drawing Offices (Ulster Bank Belfast Festival)

    • Manchester, UK

      Fri 10 Feb - Sat 3 Mar 2012

      Zion Arts Centre

    • Bristol, UK

      Thu 5 January - Sun 5 February 2012

      MShed Museum

    • Bedford, UK

      Fri 18 Nov - Thu 15 Dec 2011

      University of Bedfordshire

    • Gloucester, UK

      Mon 3 Oct - Mon 7 Nov 2011

      Gloucester Cathedral

    • Taunton, UK

      Sat 26 Feb - Sat 9 Apr 2011

      The Brewhouse Theatre & Arts Centre

    • Dublin, Ireland

      Tue 30 Nov - Sun 5 Dec 2010

      Bewleys Cafe Theatre

    • Portland, Dorset, UK

      Fri 17 - Sun 26 Sep 2010

      Brackenbury Memorial Wesleyan Methodist Church, Fortuneswell

    • Washington DC, USA

      Sun 6 Jun - Sun 20 Jun 2010

      Nations Gallery, The John F Kennedy Center for Performing Arts

    • Nottingham, UK

      Mon 19 Apr - Sat 01 May 2010

      The Old Library, Mansfield

    • Liverpool, UK

      Tues 17 Nov - Sat 05 Dec 2009

      Contemporary Urban Centre (International DaDaFest)

  • Resistance on the Plinth

    • London, UK

      8 August 2009, 10.00-11.00pm

      Trafalgar Square

Screenings

  • UK

    Watershed, Bristol
    Portobello Film Festival, London
    TUC Conference, Brighton
    Liverpool Hope University
    Filton College, Bristol
    Human Genetics Commission, London
    Bristol City Council, Holocaust Memorial Day event 2010, 2011
    University of Essex Holocaust Memorial Week 2012
    British Film Institute
    Liberty 2012: Disability Film Programme
    Disability History Month Festival 2013
    Red Barn Gallery, Belfast, for Holocaust Memorial Day 2015
    Adelaide Film Festival, 2015
    Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz on euthanasia killings and the Holocaust, 2016

  • Canada

    Limelight Film Showcase, Edmonton, Alberta
    Picture This Film Festival, Calgary
    Art ‘n’ Life, Life as Art, Toronto
    Common Pulse Arts & Disability Festival, Durham, Ontario

  • India

    Abilityfest, Chennai
    Kerala International Documentary and Short Film Festival, India

  • New Zealand

    Artstation Gallery, Auckland

  • US

    Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC

  • Lithuania

    National Institute for Social Integration, Druskininkai (human rights training for young journalists from seven EU countries)

  • Australia

    Adelaide Film Festival

  • Germany

    Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz

Credits

  • Resistance Drama

    Writer-Director
    Liz Crow

    Producer
    Lou Birks

    Director of Photography
    Terry Flaxton

    Production Designer
    Colin Williams

    1st AD
    Bob Blunden

    Composers
    Claudio Ahlers
    Barnaby Taylor

    Main Cast
    Lou Birks
    Canice Bannon
    Jamie Beddard
    Ali Briggs
    Auriol Britton
    Sarah Buckland
    David Collins
    Pauline Heath
    Mat Fraser
    Chloe Lucas
    Yvonne Lynch
    Sophie Weaver

    Production
    Roaring Girl Productions

  • Resistance Conversations

    Writer-Director
    Liz Crow

    Producer
    Lou Birks

    Director of Photography
    Louie Blystad-Collins

    Production Designer
    Colin Williams

    Interviewees
    Lou Birks
    Jamie Beddard
    Sophie Weaver

    Production
    Roaring Girl Productions

  • Resistance on Tour

    Created by
    Liz Crow

    Produced by
    Nemia Maclachlan

    Tour management
    Kate Harvey
    Joanne Peters

    Films produced by
    Lou Birks

    Technical Services
    Art AV

    Production
    Roaring Girl Productions

    Actors
    Lou Birks
    Jamie Beddard
    Sophie Weaver
    Canice Bannon
    Ali Briggs
    Auriol Britton
    Sarah Buckland
    David Collins
    Pauline Heath
    Mat Fraser
    Chloe Lucas
    Yvonne Lynch

    Cinematography
    Terry Flaxton
    Louie Blystad-Collins

    Production design
    Colin Williams

    Music
    Claudio Ahlers
    Barnaby Taylor

    Editors
    Terry Flaxton
    Victoria Stevens

    Voices production
    Claudio Ahlers
    Victoria Stevens
    Simon Whetham

    Interns
    Samiha Abdeldjebar
    Rachel Clarke
    Bob Harvard
    Jenny Gill
    Hannah Parker

  • Resistance on the Plinth

    Directed & performed by
    Liz Crow

    Art Director
    Dave Paul

    Consultant
    Ros Fry, West Mead Creative

    On-the-ground support
    Clair Lewis

    Production
    Roaring Girl Productions

Press

  • One of the most moving exhibitions I have ever visited. I kid you not. I implore you to go and see this.

    Richard Atkins, BBC Radio Gloucestershire (16 October 2011)
  • If great art is defined as stopping people in their tracks and making them think, this production is up there with the best.

    Susan Bennett, Disability Arts Online Review (November 2009)
  • Ultimately it’s Resistance’s gentle eloquence that kicks you hard in the stomach and makes it difficult to breathe.

    Laura Davis, Liverpool Daily Post (December 2009)
  • Rather than depressingly focusing on the continuing plight of disabled people, Resistance looks at the continuing fight for disability rights and uses storytelling to encourage debate on how to learn from the past.

    Kelly Mullan, Disability Now (December 2009)
  • It’s not heavy, or preachy, or horribly worthy – it’s a very powerful and moving piece that deserves to have as wide an audience as possible. Catch it while you can.

    Catherine Jones, Liverpool Daily Post (December 2009)
  • Some moments go on resounding for days, like being brought up short in Resistance: one of those times when you have to confront the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of our lives. This exhibition, by Liz Crow, of film, photos and voiceovers of disabled people in a Nazi euthanasia programme trod a fine line between sensationalism and truth, brutality and reality, but did so with incredible control. I was left with a voice that echoed in my head long after I’d left: ‘What’s unfair is that we think the world’s being unfair is normal.”

    Disability Now (January 2010)
  • Resistance is an important project which raises issues of great relevance for today and will provide an excellent forum for engaging public debate and challenging public ideas. I hope that it will gain the platform it so clearly warrants.

    Baroness Neuberger DBE
  • One of the most powerful things I have ever experienced. And I think the first thing my son has seen that helped him fully understand the Holocaust... To see the group around the kitchen table remembering the things they loved I think brought it home for him. I was so amazed by it, I went back to see it twice more. Each time I saw more and took more away from the experience.

    Susan Fitzmaurice
  • It is not often that words fail me, but I can’t begin to describe the impact this devastatingly-powerful installation had on me. This is tremendously important work, brilliantly and concisely realised into a package which will haunt me for a long, long time.

    Comment on Facebook
  • Resistance is a powerfully conceived exploration of an important but neglected subject… Liz Crow’s dramatisation vividly conveys the horror, but extends beyond the stark exposure of the historical reality to a reflection on its implications for us today.

    Roger Malbert, Senior Curator, Hayward
  • A thought provoking, disturbing evening which I would never have wanted to miss. A few minutes of viewing has left me with many hours of thought.

    Charles Royden, Deputy Mayor of Bedford
  • This is a courageous project that is characteristically ambitious. It promises high artistic quality and, at a time when Europe is struggling to find culture that enables intercultural dialogue, it will be a fantastic catalyst for debating shared values.

    Venu Dhupa, Consultant to the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts
  • Your project communicates a powerful message about resistance to oppression, particularly in relation to disabled people.

    The Earl of Snowden
  • This is art as it should be, relevant to our lives, opening our minds, and we can’t wait to see it in a gallery near us.

    Silvie Fisch, Director, Disability Cultural Projects
  • …a remarkable film…
    a real must see

    The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Geoffrey Gollop
  • I am one of the creatives involved in making the Resistance drama and would like to express how working on it affected me. I am German myself, have in the past learnt much about the atrocities committed during the fascist era by my country, yet this was the first time that the systematic killing of disabled people during the Nazi regime was brought to my attention. The ideas about what constitutes a life worth living and the moral concepts which, pushed to their most extreme, are used here to justify the murders of some of the most vulnerable people in society, are in many ways still topical today...

    Claudio Ahlers, Composer
  • Full marks for nerve

    The Guardian, on Resistance on the Plinth
  • Very cool… a very powerful piece of art. Before I knew it, I was handing out leaflets!
    … it was lovely to be sucked into it

    BBC Ouch talkshow
  • Few if any have produced a piece of work as compelling as this… undoubtedly one of the most significant contributions to Gormley’s project. Apart from the importance of the content, it presented a series of memorable images, carefully choreographed to take advantage of space and time

    Allan Sutherland, Disability Arts Online
  • A strong piece of silent protest that made more of an impact than a thousand words!

    on Facebook

More resources

Books, papers and novels

Burleigh, M (1994) Death and Deliverance: “Euthanasia” in Germany, Cambridge University Press

Friedlander, H (1995) The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to Final Solution, Chapel Hill

Gallagher, HG (1995) By Trust Betrayed: Patients, Physicians, and the License to Kill in the Third Reich, Arlington, VA: Vandamere Press

Hansen, N (2002) States of Denial: Recognising difficult history, strengthening our future, Education Department, University of Manitoba)

Mostert, MP (2002) Useless Eaters: Disability as Genocidal Marker in Nazi Germany, Journal of Special Education, 36: 3, 157-170

Mullen, K (2009) T4: Hitler’s Holocaust Rehearsal, Disability Now, June

Jung, R (1996) Dreaming in Black and White, Fogelman Books, Penguin (English edition 2003). Novel about a disabled German boy who drifts back in his dreams to another life in the Third Reich. Guide age 10+

Keith, L (2003) Out of Place, Crocus. Novel about a young disabled child who escapes on the Kindertransport. Guide age 10+

 

Websites

Wikipedia on Aktion T4

Eugenics and Euthanasia, Marcuse, H (2005) Department of History, University of California, Santa Barbara

Disability Studies and the Legacy of Eugenics, Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago

Hadamar Memorial Site

Prejudice is Everyone’s Problem, Miss Dennis Queen’s blog

Sponsors

  • Arts Council England
  • NESTA
  • South West Screen

Crow, Liz (2009) (Resistance), Roaring Girl Productions [online] [Available at: http://www.roaring-girl.com/work/resistance/] [Accessed 18/08/2017]