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The University of Southampton
The Parkes Institute

Talk by Hungarian Holocaust Survivor John Dobai, plus a presentation by his daughter, artist Sarah Dobai Event

John Dobai
16:00 - 18:00
24 April 2018
Building 65, Room 2117 Avenue Campus University of Southampton Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this event, please email The Parkes Institute at .

Event details

Talk by Hungarian Holocaust Survivor John Dobai, plus a presentation by his daughter, artist Sarah Dobai

Black and white portrait photo of John Dobai in 2017
John Dobai, London 2017

The session will feature John Dobai, a regular speaker for the Holocaust Education Trust UK and invited speaker for the Durban and Cape Town Holocaust Centres amongst other international venues. John’s account highlights a less well known survivor’s experience than those centred on the concentration camp. His experiences of the Holocaust as a child were centred in on him and his mothers’s incarceration in official and unofficial Yellow Star Houses, 2,000 of which were instituted by the pro-Nazi government in 1944 to house Budapest’s Jews, who represented a quarter of the city’s population. Setting this into the historical context of Hungary's position before and during the war, Dobai’s account tells of his and his parents’ survival thanks to the work of Swedish Diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who created safe houses and passports for Hungarian Jews to rescue them from deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Following Dobai’s presentation, his daughter artist Sarah Dobai will talk about her work with her father’s account in the context of the film The Donkey Field (currently in development). Her presentation will examine  her decision to juxtapose her father’s account with visual footage referring to an acclaimed film by Robert Bresson. She will explore her approach to her father’s story in relation to Art Spiegelman's Maus series and Giorgio Agamben's debates around the figure of the witness in the understanding of the history of the Holocaust.

Speaker Information

John Dobai

John was born in 1934 in Budapest, Hungary and to protect him from growing anti-semitism was raised as a Roman Catholic with no knowledge of the fact that his family were Jewish until the age of nine when the German army occupied the country. John and his family moved to the UK in 1948, where he completed school and studied Chemistry at university. Today he is married with two daughters and three grandchildren.

Sarah Dobai

Sarah Dobai, John’s younger daughter, is a visual artist and Senior Lecturer at Chelsea College of Art, London. Her practice is based in photography and film and her recent production has used and repurposed existing works of cinema or literature as a means of exploring historical subject matter. Recent and forthcoming solo exhibitions and projects include Principles & Deceptions, Or Gallery, Vancouver and the performance Bees in a Hive of Glass, a new commission for the UK’s Whitstable Biennale in collaboration with novelist Tom McCarthy. Previous solo and group shows include Twenty Second Hold , Works Projects, Bristol, City Lives , Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Theatres of the Real , FotoMuseum Antwerp; Darkside II , FotoMuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, Troubled Water, Kuandu Museum of Fine Art, Taipei.

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