In loving and reverent memory of Horst Rosenthal.
Between August 2018 and October 2019, I made a series of 7 mixtapes, all themed around the woods I live next to. I then hid them among the trees for people to find. After the project ended, I found myself missing it enormously, and I realised I wasn’t done with the concept.
This new project will consist 13 tapes – one for each full moon in 2020. Combined with the initial set, this will amount to a total of 20 tapes made, burned to CD, and hidden in the forest by the end of 2020. Each tape will depict my own experience walking in the woods, and will be structured around the lunar cycle. 4 copies of each edition will be hidden in Blean woods the night before the full moon, and a digital version will be uploaded to this website on the day. Each tape is titled after the most common name of that month’s full moon, and will be informed by the natural shifts in season and mood throughout the year.
My real name or face is not on the tapes, on this website, or on any of the links in the posts. This is partially to protect my privacy, and partly because I am not important. I’d rather divert attention to the artists I love, the woods I love, and to great people like Horst Rosenthal.
If you can read this, we have something in common.
Thank you for your curiosity.
- January 10th: The Wolf Moon
- February 9th: The Snow Moon
- March 9th: The Worm Moon
8th12th: The Pink Moon
- May 7th: The Flower Moon
- June 5th: The Strawberry Moon
- July 5th: The Buck Moon
- August 3rd: The Sturgeon Moon
- September 2nd: The Harvest Moon
- October 1st: The Hunter’s Moon
- October 31st: The Blue Moon
- November 30th: The Beaver Moon
- December 30th: The Cold Moon
“Dark things have always existed but they used to be in a proper balance with good when life was slower.”David Lynch
I hope you’re ok.
A Polish-French Jew detained at Gurs camp in the South of France during Nazi occupation, Horst Rosenthal’s name survives thanks to the comics he made during his imprisonment. Three remain intact and preserved. One is a satirical holiday brochure of the concentration camp, another is a similarly sardonic “Day in the life” of an inmate. The most famous is “Mickey Mouse at Gurs Internment Camp“, in which Walt Disney’s character is arrested for having dubious ancestry and sent to Gurs. He has to use a giant magnifying glass to view his food rations and is naturally appalled at the prisoners’ conditions. The comic book ends with Mickey removing himself from the page with a pencil eraser and re-drawing himself in New York City, “the land of liberty, equality and fraternity”. Unlike his borrowed protagonist, Horst did not escape the holocaust and was murdered at Auschwitz on September 11th 1944. The cover of his most celebrated comic declares that it was “Published without permission from Walt Disney”, inferring that copyright law was more fiercely defended than the rights of the undesirables. Gurs camp was demolished after the liberation and a forest was planted in its place. While my own turf of Blean Woods has been here for thousands of years and stands as a monument to permanence, the younger Gurs Forest is an attempt to heal the land of past atrocities.
We do not know much about Horst, other than he had “brown hair” and a “normal nose” according to Nazi records. However, there is a possible self-portrait of the artist in his “Day in the Life” comic, drawn from the back and walking with a girl under the moonlight – under the same moon you and I have seen. To me, Horst represents the enormous potential of using existing art and pop culture as a method of self-expression. Just as Mickey Mouse’s image and character were taken by Horst and used to convey his plight, humour and humanity, so can other pieces of art be used in new ways by us. Pop culture is powerful, important and must be defended, maintained and questioned. It gives a voice to the artist and the appreciator. At its best, it is a method for enhancing our engagement with the world, expanding our empathy, and asserting our dignity as human beings.