Entries in Holocaust (7)


Tracks Headed East

A sense of urgency overtook me today and I was able to get a couple of important photographs made. I'm exhausted right now, but elated. While I call everything an experiment, it's not exactly true. For now, however, I'm calling the work experimental.

The "train tracks" image below is something I've been meaning to try for a while. Most all of the tracks here were used, at least in some part, to transport Jews and other undesirables to either bigger train stations or directly to the concentration camps. My friend, Caron, mentioned that I should look at making some images like this - I couldn't agree more.

The feeling I get when I look at this empty, quiet image is one of anxiety. I'm waiting for a train to rip through this space headed east (the direction of this image) with cars full of people going to their death. Although, it doesn't look like it, I was very close to the tracks. It made me a little bit nervous. I shot this with my new (old) CC Harrison portrait lens - wide open - what a neo-pictorialist, huh? I was lucky to find a spot where I had access to the tracks (and schlep all of my Scheise to it). Sometimes, it's difficult doing these kinds of things. I was thinking about how I would probably be arrested in the United States for doing this... you know the whole terrorist scare thing. No one was around when I made the images. It was out of the way and "in between" towns.

"Train Tracks Headed East - Bahnhof Ahead" - 29 March 2008 - 1305 - 10x8 Black Glass Ambrotype (destroyed) - Southwestern Germany (quiet countryside). 
I'm going to keep making images of memorials, tracks, and portraits (and whatever else strikes me). I'm also going to explore making images of smokestacks. All of these symbols are very powerful to me. I have no idea how all of this is translating, or will translate, but I'll keep making images, thinking out loud, writing my thoughts and ideas down and hopefully, someday put it all together.



Viernheim Synagogue Memorial & Some Project Thoughts

I can only imagine what goes through the minds of the people watching as I make photographs in the small towns and villages here.

This morning I went out to re-photograph the Synagogue memorial in the village I live in, Viernheim. They moved the memorial (I call them gravestones - they always seem to be weeping) a couple of months ago. They also included a little sitting area and bench. It's actually a lot better.

As I setup and made preparations to make a plate, several people walked by and stared - I mean stared! One old German man, maybe 70 years-old, or more, almost tripped, as he was walking by staring. He wasn't watching where he was going. I said, "Achtung, Baby!" - I wonder if he got the reference to the U2 album, probably not.

I don't mind people watching. I'm a voyeur by profession and passion. The thing that I don't is like not knowing if they're just interested, or if they're thinking, "I would prefer that this guy go away." It feels like the latter, but I'm hopeful that it's the former.

The photograph I made this morning is gone. It made me sick, but I wiped it from the plate. This is the only "evidence" that remains of the Ambrotype. What if I made this whole project like that? What if there were no plates in the entire project, only non-tangible (digital) representations? It would be a lot like the subject matter, no?

A friend/colleague emailed me the other day asked me about my thoughts on impermanence, or ephemeral art. He's working on his M.F.A. and doing some really interesting things with chalk-screen transfers. His images are only there for a short time on a chalkboard - this theme has been explored by a lot of artists, but it keeps coming back to me, time and time again. It feels like I'm not listening.

Just as the Synagogues and people were "wiped away", I think that this method may serve the project well. I first thought about breaking the glass, destroying the images, or having Germans do that in a performance. After some thought, I decided no, that's too much. However, wiping these images  from the plates, and maybe even keeping the Collodion I wipe off as residue may be the answer I've been looking for.

You have to remember, these images are extremely beautiful when you're holding them in your hand. They're a "precious artifact" in a lot of ways.  They're also a lot of work to make - a big investment in many ways -  time, money, effort, etc. So destroying them and only keeping (digital) representations creates a sense of loss for me - a lot like how I feel when I see (memorials) representations of these beautiful Synagogues (and people) that were destroyed.

I'm going to seriously explore this some more. Right now, in this moment, I feel very strongly about it.

"Destroyed Synagogue Memorial With Apartments and Playground" 8x10 Black Glass Ambrotype - 29 March 2009 - 0923, Viernheim, Germany (I flipped this positive so you can read the text) 
Notes: The memorials seem to be "weeping" every time I photograph them. The background (apartment buildings, trees, playground, etc.) appear as a painting or drawing, unreal, if you will. The gravestone seems to be emerging from a black earth - terrible and foreboding. 


Germany issues arrest warrant for Sobibor's 'Ivan the Terrible'

German authorities issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday for John Demjanjuk, 88, the alleged Nazi war criminal ‘Ivan the Terrible’ suspected of killing tens of thousands of Jews in a World War II death camp.

"The accused is currently still in the United States," a court official said in a statement. "As soon as he arrives in Germany he will be questioned and tried."


Ivan the Terrible

A spokesman for the Justice Ministry told The Local, “We are looking at how this arrest warrant can be carried out. As to how, or when, I cannot say.”

If the US authorities do not expel Demjanjuk, a formal extradition request will be made.

Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, now living in the United States, is thought to have assisted in the deaths of at least 29,000 Jews during his time in a Nazi concentration camp in Sobibor.

Demjanjuk, one of the world’s most wanted Nazi war criminals, emigrated to the US in 1950 but was extradited to Israel in 1986 after being accused of being the infamous ‘Ivan the Terrible.’

Sentenced to death in 1988 in Israel, he was released in August 1993 when Israeli judges dropped the case against him after statements by former guards collected by the KGB suggested another man was the infamous ‘Ivan the Terrible’.

Demjanjuk then returned to the city of Cleveland in the US state of Ohio where he has been living under house arrest conditions.

Six years later, the case against him was revived as evidence emerged that he had worked for the Nazis as a guard at three other death camps. He is still on a Simon Wiesenthal Centre list of the most wanted Nazi war criminals still alive.

Story from thelocal.de



I've watched a lot of films and read a lot of books about the Holocaust, or Shoah, over the years. However, I hadn't seen, "Shoah" by Claude Lanzmann. I want to travel to some of these places, especially Auschwitz-Birkenau, Chełmno, Sorbibor and Treblinka, and do some work for my project.

If you haven't seen it, you should - here's an overview:

Claude Lanzmann directed this 9 1/2 hour documentary of the Holocaust without using a single frame of archive footage. He interviews survivors, witnesses, and ex-Nazis (whom he had to film secretly since though only agreed to be interviewed by audio). His style of interviewing by asking for the most minute details is effective at adding up these details to give a horrifying portrait of the events of Nazi genocide. He also shows, or rather lets some of his subjects themselves show, that the anti-Semitism that caused 6 million Jews to die in the Holocaust is still alive in well in many people that still live in Germany, Poland, and elsewhere.

"Shoah" by Claude Lanzmann

A good perspective on the camps, locations and where I live (red box).



Kristallnacht: The Beginning

I really love this image (it will probably end up on the front of my new web site) - this was the first plate of the day. It's an 8" x 10" black glass Ambrotype shot with a small Jamin-Darlot (c.1864) lens - I like the "keyhole" effect this lens gives the image.

We visited Mainz, Germany today. It's about 45 minutes to the north of us. I made three wet plate collodion images there of the former synagogue. It was perfect weather and a perfect day for it.

The Germans were very friendly in Mainz. We had a paper ready to handout to them explaining what I was doing. There were a few very positive and encouraging responses; I was surprised. There were a few that stayed and watched as I went through the entire process and saw the final plate coming up in the fix. Really great stuff!

I am very excited about this project now; the results were fantastic today and I look forward to going out again in a few days to make more images. Jean and Summer were outstanding! I love you both! Thank you for all of your help - I couldn't do this crazy thing without you!

The memorial plaque - this plate is exquisite in real life. The details are amazing - especially the stones
and the relief of the old synagogue. This is an 8" x 10" Ambrotype on black glass.

Quinn exposes a plate as Summer rolls video.

Here's the setup: Toyota 4Runner and a portable darkroom!