Video SD / b&w and colour / 29 minutes / June, 2016.


In 1988 Steve Reich wrote Different Trains, an innovative work in three movements for string quartet and pre-recorded tape. This autobiographical piece evokes the train journeys from New York to Los Angeles that the composer made between 1939 and 1942 to visit the homes of his divorced parents. In the second movement, the remembrance of these journeys as a romantic childhood adventure is overlaid by a contrafactual scenario exploring the likely fate of a Jew like him in the Europe of the time: the trains would have been one-way vehicles of deportation to the Nazi extermination camps. The final movement refers to the end of the war period and the rapid process of social transformation, as symbolized by the new trains, but also refers to the survivors’ inability to leave behind the doubts, anxieties and memories of the crimes and devastation of the Nazi regime.

In 2016, in a work commissioned by the BBVA Foundation, Beatriz Caravaggio has revisited Steve Reich’s ideas, giving the score a visual life. Her cinematographic recomposition builds on a montage of archive images of the wartime period. The film transports us from a setting of bucolic landscapes and magnificent trains to the survivors’ journey to America, by way of a central movement that conjures up the darkest chapters of the war. In this passage, the author juxtaposes archive images of deportations, death camps and the liberation. The film is characterized by the division of the screen into three parts, bringing out a rich range of meanings; a slightly out-of-synch triptych that achieves a temporal fragmentation while producing a cohesive collage of dynamics and transitions. The video art work has been synchronized with the Kronos Quartet’s canonical 1989 performance of Different Trains.


“Since we live in a time when many people want a visual accompaniment for music – even at concerts – several people have created videos to accompany my piece Different Trains. To be honest, most of them I haven’t even seen, and those I have are generally just a distraction from listening to the music. The one exception is the brilliant multi channel video by Beatriz Caravaggio which really works as something to watch on its own and as a way to intensify listening to Different Trains. She has taken documentary footage and through multi channel placement and fine editing, made a thoughtful and moving piece. Bravo, Beatriz!”.  Steve Reich, 2017.



– Alesund Kammermusikkfestival, Norway. 2 February, 2024.
– Haus der Musik Innsbruck, Austria. 21 December, 2022.
– Calgary Pro Musica Society, Canada. 20 October, 2019.
– The Friends of Chamber Music, Kansas City. 11 October, 2019.
– Joan Miró Foundation and Grec Festival, Barcelona. From 14 June to 6 October, 2019.
– Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio. From 9 February to 5  May, 2019.
– Equinox Chamber Music Festival. Copenhague. 31 March, 2019.
– Soundstreams. Toronto. 2 February, 2019.
– Rockport Chamber Music Festival. Massachusetts. 22 June, 2018.
– Montreal Chamber Music Festival. 12 June, 2018.
– Aspekte Salzburgo Festival. 26 April, 2018.
– Museo Patio Herreriano, Valladolid. From 26 January to 15 April, 2018.
– Cine Zumzeig, Barcelona. 28 January, 2018.
Banff Centre International String Quartet Festival, Canada. 3 September, 2017.
– Summer Music Vancouver. 15 July,  2017.
– Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. From 26 April to 25 September,  2017.
– Las Palmas International Film Festival. 3 and 8 April, 20017.
BBVA Foundation, Madrid.  From 13 January to 20 March, 2017.

Toledo Museum of Art. Ohio, USA.



From I Movement. America – Before the War.


From II Movement. Europa – During the War.


From III Movement. After the War.




Miquel Martí Freixas

Revisiting, rethinking, looking back upon past events are artistic attitudes of our time. A very active cultural stance in the latest decades, which explores especially the legacies of the twentieth century. This revisitation of the past offers a detailed reflection of the times lived, inscriptions in memory that are still more profound than those that already existed. We might understand this return voyage as a posthumous chapter of the preceding century.

The twentieth century is also the first in which humanity possesses a variety of tools so as to leave extensive records and interpretations of the experiences lived. It is a century that has been printed, photographed, set to a soundtrack, filmed day by day. In the twenty-first century, these multiple tools that record the developments have become globalized and supersaturate their own function. It is a time that is written down, photographed, set to a soundtrack, filmed, shared and experienced virtually every minute in a diversity of formats and platforms. The enormous and rapidly growing amount of material that records the testimony of our time obstructs a calm and distant gaze. Perhaps these obstacles to the comprehension of the twenty-first century also encourage the search for reasons on the trails of the twentieth century. One of the characteristics of these times of multiple registries is their intersection. They are mixed, interactive, participatory expressions. A distinctive feature that is also adopted in contemporary art. An example of this are the reinterpretations in many artistic environments: palimpsestic forms and creations that are hybrids of various disciplines the limits of which are blurred, or polyhedral approaches that allow to delve deeper into the object of study.

The work of Beatriz Caravaggio is created in this post-cultural framework. At the start of the twenty-first century, she looks back onto the key years of the twentieth, those of the Holocaust. The work, a film, is a reconstruction of memories composed in musical form in the nineteen-eighties—Steve Reich’s biographical compositions that reflect upon the collective experiences of those who suffered the barbarity of Nazism during the thirties and the forties. Thus, in our present, we are offered a singular and complex diaristic-musical-cinematographic work that spans some eight decades.

Rhythms, fragments and compositions of memory

Steve Reich’s work Different Trainsis the description of a thought. In his childhood, the composer travelled the United States coast to coast to visit his separated parents. A child in large trains, journeys that lasted several days, long hauls lived as adventures. In his mature years, and in the process of inquiring into his Jewish roots, the composer understands that while he enjoyed these spectacular journeys, with the deported Jews destined for confinement or death, desperate stories circulated on other railways. The composer becomes conscious of his fortune, perhaps of the importance of destiny, as a Jew in a country far from the Europe of Nazism and the Holocaust.

Repetition is an outstanding feature of Reich’s musical composition, in which elements that recall the activity of a train have a great presence. The piece is composed of moments that combine quickness and slowing down, expressing different speeds. Whistles characteristic of the operation of a railway are easily distinguishable. And very particularly, the work reflects the unmistakable, ceaseless rattle that ends up becoming an internal rhythm for the traveller. The American composer renders this with an enveloping reiteration of sound, as though in a state of an auditive trance, that might open the mind to a dream-like state. It is in this more intangible sphere where the connection with other, distant physical spaces occurs, with other trains and other human beings. This rhythmic mental voyage shall be the basis of their memory.

Beatriz Caravaggio interprets Steve Reich’s ideas giving the piece a visual life. Her reading builds on a montage of archive images related to the subject matter and belonging to the same period; that is to say, images that have a documentary connection with the described history.

The film moves from a bucolic setting of nature and landscapes, with an admiration for the new trains, to return to large cities and significant buildings, a grey urban world after World War II, having travelled through more obscure periods of the conflict. Throughout this passage of time, she brings together archive images belonging to concentration camps, deportation, extermination and liberation. Film records rescued from places and circumstances with few witnesses of the reality, the rescued images – the fruit of historical events, in some cases of heroic acts. In the extensive effort of the selection of archive material, the video-artist’s creative work lies in an excellent reordering of all these images, a methodical and precise elaboration made frame by frame. As a result of this process, the construction of a narrating gaze, the documentary origin is rewritten to create a storyline.

An important feature of the montage is the division of the screen in three parts, offering a range of readings. On the one hand, the triptych is slightly arrhythmical, which offers us a fragmentation of time, fractionated memories. Reminiscences that appear somewhat scrambled, shaped with a diversity of dynamics, movements and voices. The triptych is also an aesthetic composition of movements, forms and colours, constructed with an evocative richness owing to the coordination, the similarities or contrast. It is a collagistic work, but at the same time, the variety of archive sources is presented with a visual uniformity, which offers us a cohesive story.

Beatriz Caravaggio also maintains the original structure that divides the work into three movements, and it is in the third that the triptych acquires a new value through the contrast of meanings. The survivors arrive to their new destinations and the quotidian rhythm of these cities saturates their lives, but these cannot but continue to bear the indelible marks of the Holocaust. Thus, the course of the present time will coexist with memories of the past.

iSignificance and legacies

The artistic representations related to this subject have been many, beginning in the very concentration camps (painting, drawing, music, literature, poetry, among other expressions) and until today. There are quite a few masterpieces that have become cultural milestones, but speaking of the works as a whole rather than highlighting talents and successful renderings, the conglomerate formed by those that are the most ethical, more rigorous, profound or representative constructs a collective memory of the events.

.In different disciplines, an influential legacy is shaped by written memoirs, literature and poetry (Paul Celan, Anne Frank, Imre Kertész, Eugene Kogon, Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, among many others), by film-makers (Alain Resnais, Claude Lanzmann, Andrzej Munk, Harun Farocki, László Nemes) and music, as in the case of Steve Reich’s work and Beatriz Caravaggio’s cinematographic recomposition. Memorials and museums of the entire world perform the function moulding historic memory, including artistic memory. We might also include works that reach a very mainstream audience and, although less profound than those mentioned earlier, maintain an ethic and a true interest in the subject matter and, in their popularity, influence a large stratum of the population. This could be the case of Steven Spielberg’s famous film (and let us not forget his essential work with archive material) or comic books, such as the pioneering work of Bernard Krigstein or Art Spiegelman’s famous graphic novel.

All together, they forge a rich and multiple legacy of inscriptions in memory. A monolith of representations that inscribe the important concept of never forgetting what happened. In addition, we also find a hope of a future heritage, a hope that the history lived in the twentieth century, the Holocaust and all its causes and consequences will be part of the memory of the future. As though a common knowledge that impedes their repetition might be shared by human beings, instilling the extreme lessons and experiences of that time in their cognitive learning.




Idoia Hormaza

Despite the trauma surrounding them, or perhaps precisely so that trauma need never be experienced again, there are some chapters in our history that should not be forgotten. In the style of great classic stories, or in the predetermined succession of action, it possesses three parts: introduction, development and resolution, which in the language of music translates to three movements. Three movements for the homonymous piece, Different Trains (1988), by the composer of minimal music Steve Reich, performed by the legendary Kronos Quartet. These three movements are further broken down into combinations of monochord tempos – sometimes simultaneous and at other times slightly offset – in the work of videoart by Beatriz Caravaggio.

The train becomes a metaphor of life itself or the opportunities – “to take a train”, “to wait for the next train”, “to miss a train”, etc. – that determine the fate of an individual or a group of people. However, those choices are not always available to us. As a child, Steve Reich was forced to experience the separation of his parents, in turn forcing him to travel the United States from east to west on increasingly faster, more affordable trains. His fascination with speed – a toy of real-life dimension – allowed him to ignore the true reason for his journey; which was not a hobby or a game but rather a family break-up.

If we think about journeys and shattered lives, the major rupture took place in the same years in Europe during World War II. The worst of it fell on the Jewish community which, during “the final solution” that coincided with Steve Reich’s childhood, led to thousands of people being deported every day from the station in Warsaw alone, which is where the archive images were taken. A factory process, an industrial system for exterminating an entire people in record time.

Nothing can stop the passage of time although it is sometimes marked with scars, fragments of documentary film, lives that go on despite the wounds. At some point in his adult life, Steve Reich came to terms with what happened in his childhood because his fate would have been entirely different had he been a Jewish child on the other side of the Atlantic. He incorporates that journey’s soundtrack – the rattling of train wheels on the track, engine whistles, the clinking of barriers, etc. – as the musical language of cyclical, repetitive and industrial rhythms into the composition of his reflexive piece, a reminder of the terror that others were living at the time.

Prisoners unknowingly hurtling towards their death. Arranged into rows clutching their only personal items in small suitcases and with no other alternative available to them.

Beatriz Caravaggio has used documentary resources from numerous public and private archives around the world to create a visual triptych – another form of rupture, in this case grammatical, the number three again. In this large format piece, spectators are hard pressed to escape the impactful nature of the images that, just like the music and in tune with the rhythm and melodic combinations, strike hard. To begin with, one is captivated by images depicting progress by the locomotive technology of the era. Little can you suspect that this visual representation of the power of trains, their infrastructure, the constantly moving landscape and the passengers sitting comfortably as they read a newspaper will come to an end and provide a foundation for Beatriz Caravaggio to offer an intense contrast to this everyday life with another, more brutal depiction of something else that was also made possible by the progress of technology: from passengers to prisioners on the deportation trains of the Third Reich. The music gradually slows and the unchanging theme becomes more anguished, falling into notes of a more subdued nature.

Most of the images that Beatriz Caravaggio has used for her contemporary montage of that reality come from a chilling purpose: Commandant Gemmeker’s intention to prevent the closure of the Westerbork transit camp that the Reich Chancellery in Berlin would consider necessary when the time came. In the same way that the Jews were forced to commit the greatest of outrages against themselves, it was an Austrian Jewish photographer who was in charge of filming these scenes: Rudolf Breslauer. The payment was too great to refuse: to preserve his own life and those of his family for a little longer, a few months more. But only one daughter would survive three months later.

These trains were very different to those in America: sealed tight, no views, packed full, motionless for days awaiting their orders and with one purpose – death, albeit on the four-day journey itself either from the heat of the burning summer sun or the cold of the winter freeze, or extermination at the crime factories in Auschwitz and Treblinka. The only images impossible to find from that time – from inside the wagons themselves – have been extracted by the artist from other archive material from a different era – a documentary to commemorate the victims in the 1960s at another of the bloodiest concentration camps, Jasenovac in Croatia. Images of tiny, ridiculously small holes in the sides of the wagons and orthogonal metal vents that were the only source of ventilation for the people crammed into dark carriages designed for animals. Footage that was taken from the trains used during the deportation time.

Voices with a cassette tape sound to them, samplers, of Steve Reich’s nanny and a ticket inspector for the first movement and those of the survivors interviewed for archive material from Yale University accompany us for the auditory composition by Steve Reich and the visual composition in the work by Beatriz Caravaggio. Words that begin with a childlike excitement – “the fastest trains”, “from New York to Chicago” – but descend into darkness with “I had a very tall teacher”, “black crows”, “they invaded our country”, “and he pointed at me”, “no more school”.

The war ends, the camps are liberated by the Americans and the Red Army, an armistice is reached and the few survivors – who stare into the camera lens – are freed. Joyful smiles of “the war is over” and a certain disbelief, “are you sure?” The journey and life itself starts again. Many of them emigrated to the United States. The static skyscrapers provide a backdrop for those trains that raced along rails, “the fastest trains”, “but they no longer exist”. Memory, however, does persist.