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Silences

Beginning in 1994, I undertook for personal reasons a succes-sion of long walks in the Auschwitz concentration camp, the contemporary site of an archaeology of horror.

 

What could be represented and was it necessary? While trying to position myself at the core of this reality, I had strongly felt how representational photography could not adequately express the experience of the site. If I did not simply want to add to the compendium of iconic images, it was necessary to invest another territory. 

 

I first gauged the geographical vastness of the place by taking an oblique approach to the camp, starting from the periphery of fields, forests, marshes. In the forest, the sight of trees growing directly on ashes gave rise to photos where the individuality of the witnesses, disappeared but still present, was expressed metaphorically with images of rooted trunks edited at stomach height.

Silences, a series of large light boxes installed in the Old Port of Montreal had introduced into the urban space a few fragments of the itineraries around these approximations of horror. Strangely, having lost their interpretive panels, the backlit images had remained suspended there in space like anonymous landscapes with all reference erased, leaving only a blackout.

 

Even if the metaphor of trees-as-witnesses allowed me to represent Auschwitz differently, it could not fully translate the intense subjective feeling of a palpable presence. I then set out to search actively for a photographic process that would capture this intuitive energetic reality. It manifested as electro-photography which I have been practicing elsewhere since.

Camp (Periphery): the Fields.

   Vinyl print, 4,68 m x 3,90 m. [1]

Camp (Periphery): the Marshes.

   Vinyl print, 4,68 m x 3,90 m. [2

Camp (Periphery): the Ponds.

   Vinyl print, 4,68 m x 3,90 m. [3]

Camp (Periphery): the Forest.

   Vinyl print, 4,68 m x 3,90 m. [4]

Camp (Periphery): the Outskirts.

   Vinyl print, 4,68 m x 3,90 m. [5]

Study (When the Earth Withholds).

   Silver print. [6]

Study (When the Earth Withholds). Idem. [7]

Study (When the Earth Withholds). Idem. [8]

When the Earth Withholds (diptych, left).

   Silver print, 51 cm x 51 cm. [9]

When the Earth Withholds (diptych, right).

   Idem. [10]

In the Shadow of the Forest. 

   27 plates, each 61 cm x 61 cm. [11]

Silences. Installation,

   solar backlighting, 2002-2004. [12]

Silences. Idem. [13]

Silences. Idem. [14]

Silences. Idem. [15]

In the Shadow of the Forest (Auschitz

   Birkenau).  Installation, 1999. [16]

Dans l’ombre de la forêt (Auschwitz

   Birkenau). Installation, 1998. [17]