The cycles of life and time leave little behind.
What, then, can one say of the twentieth century or of its great calamities?
What will remain of its wars or of its lessons?
What will remain of the century that has recently begun or of the present day?
For those who were transported to Nazi death camps in eastern Europe, the overwhelming majority were murdered shortly after their arrival. For those deemed fit to work, their lives went on until they, too, died or were murdered.
For the few who survived, their memories remain with them. They are the living witnesses to those events. They are the clear and immediate voice of a time when state power, bent in the service of ambition and the destruction of the unwanted, created a wound the world still grasps to understand.
For those who remain, time is precious. In not many years, there will be no living voice that will be able to tell, in first person, the survivors’ story. Society will have taken the great step of losing those who touched the wire of their confinement.
What will remain of these events?
Will the open fields, the buildings, and the ovens remain?
Will there be a way to make sense of that time or will the past fade into a vagueness that is ignored?
In five trips to southern Poland, I have spent over two months walking the streets, barracks, and fence lines of Auschwitz-Birkenau. During that time, I have created a photographic record of two of Nazi Germany’s greatest sites of mass killing, including facilities not typically accessible by the visiting public.
The purpose of this effort is to evoke an emotional response to events that continue to disturb the present. In images that are abstract, in focus, or vague, the collection suggests the experience of those who lived, suffered, and died in institutions of state sanctioned hatred and cruelty.
The collection is a reflection on a time that affirms that anyone is vulnerable to the arbitrary exercise of power.
My hope is that future generations will consider the fragility of the human condition, including the need to dampen society’s base inclinations and to assure that the institutions of civil society remain strong.
These images are my record.
They are my voice.
They are my effort to return to the light of the past.