Gleis 17: A Story of Losing and Finding

I first visited the former rail yard in Berlin called Gleis 17 (in English, Track 17) in July 2010, in my first visit to the city.  Located at the Grunewald station in the western suburbs of the city, it was the principal deportation point for Berlin Jews during the Holocaust.  Deportations from Grunewald began in 1941, mostly to ghettos in occupied Poland and to the Theresiestadt concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.  Deportations continued more or less weekly into 1945, with the peak intensity occurring in late 1942, when daily trainloads carrying upwards of 1000 Jews went directly to Auschwitz.  Altogether, the platforms at Grunewald Station deported over 50,000 Berlin Jews, almost all of whom were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.

In 1988 a memorial opened at the site, consisting of two parts.  First, there are large iron grates laid next to one another along two lengths of the deportation platforms, with specific information for every transport that left Grunewald, including the date of the deportation, the number of condemned people on each train, the fact that these condemned people were Jews, and the destination.  This informational specificity is very powerful, focusing on Jews deported from Berlin and not elsewhere (in contrast to the grandiose Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in the center of Berlin).  At the same time, Gleis 17’s short lines of track take the entire continent as their foil, linking whoever stands on the platform to the faraway places named as destinations.  I made these pictures of the Gleis 17 memorial in July 2010:

Gleis 17, Berlin, July 2010 / Leica X1 digital camera with fixed 24mm f/2.8 lens

Second, the vegetation around all the tracks used to deport Jews has been left to grow into something wild, perhaps not quite wilderness but definitely not welcoming or gardenlike.  On one level, the free-growing flora quite literally breaks apart the site’s functionality, ensuring that no train will leave from these platforms again.  On another level, undomesticated nature forms a symbolic counterpoint to the logistical and bureaucratic precision of the death process.  On yet another level, the chaos of trees and shrubs can be seen as expressing the site’s traumatic history, using nature to de-normalize the crime (per Job’s plea in the Torah:  “Oh Earth, do not cover my blood, and let my cry have no resting place!”), and indeed to convey it.

In the eight years since I first visited Gleis 17, I have traveled thousands of miles in a vast trapezoid-shaped territory between Berlin on the west, Riga in the north, Odessa in the south, and Kharkov in the east––to hundreds of sites where the Holocaust occurred.  I have been unfolding a project, Alive and Destroyed:  A Meditation on the Holocaust in Time that grapples with the long afterlife of genocide in the places where the killing happened.  Mostly these are small, forgotten or almost-forgotten sites, often unmarked––town ghettos, slave labor camps, transit and subcamps, forest and field massacre sites, remote mass graves, deportation routes––in addition to the more centrifugal sites of memory like the camps of Auschwitz, Sobibór, Bełżec, and Majdanek.  To date I have worked in over 300 sites, sometimes multiple times, which feels significant but which in fact forms a small fraction of the more than 42,500 such sites identified by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

Geographic area of Alive and Destroyed, the heart of where the killing of Jews in the Holocaust occurred, though it drew in Jews from across all of German-occupied Europe

Partly my project is informationally driven, an attempt to communicate the geographic scale and penetration of the Holocaust, toward a decentralized and dispersed approach to the Holocaust’s history.  More than that, Alive and Destroyed wrestles with the problems of using images––visual, mental––to approach traumatic history at all.  Against the dominant forms of documentary photography that set out to stabilize what they show, and impart to the viewer a sense of control or mastery over what they see, I am interested in forms of witness that do not seek to trap, contain or make a (falsely) stable memory-object of loss.  In contrast to photographs that aim to “capture” or confirm the presence of something in an image, the photographs for Alive and Destroyed attempt to release something, namely an awareness of rupture, absence and incomprehension as these things dwell in certain locations (or more precisely, in certain locations by way of my own consciousness of them).  I think that making images on the terms of slippage and incompleteness of understanding is something photography is well suited to, inasmuch as photography by its nature is a paradoxical image-form that mixes presence and absence, optical specificity and interpretive ambiguity, epistemic uncertainty and narrative potency.  Alive and Destroyed is not primarily about the ontologic complications of photography (and so may not amount to contemporary art, insofar as photography as contemporary art is mostly about making commentary on the medium of photography itself).  Instead, my project is primarily about historical consciousness and its lack, using photography's ontologic complications to explore a determined but leaky approach to the representation of a history that is itself grave but porous, full of imperatives that reside at the limits of the thinkable.

The key to this task, for me, is aesthetic.  I use a large-format camera, which allows great tonal richness owing to the sheer size of the negative, as well as enormous plastic control of the image owing to the unfixed relationship of the film plane and the lens, a function of the bellows design.  In particular, the view camera allows the creation of complex focal description, and planes of focus running through space at virtually any angle.  The visual language of Alive and Destroyed relies on all of these elements to create images with carefully chosen focal corridors running through inchoate descriptive space.  The pictures are intrinsically dialectical, sharp and also unsharp, rigorous and also elusive, calm and disquieted.  

My Canham 4x5 view camera, with 6¼ inch f/6.5 Cooke Anastigmat lens

It took me some time to find, or invent this idiom for myself.  I began to use the view camera about fifteen years ago, and it has been my main tool for the last decade (along with a digital Leica that I use handheld, for sketching, for portraits and things I cannot do with a slow working camera).  At first I used the large camera in the mode of the medium and small format cameras I was habituated to, and gradually learned what I wanted from the shifting, tilting, swinging, rising and falling of the large camera’s elements––what pictures could look like with this camera, and what I could learn to think about through those pictures.

Although I have been a prolific photographer for more than thirty years now, it was not until I began to work with the view camera that I deeply understood the fictive nature of photography––that photography’s core cultural paradox is that it is a fictive medium mostly used for non-fictive purposes.  With the view camera I truly grasped that a photograph is not a reproduction of what it shows, but a visual artifice, a pictorial stylization, a conceptual proposition to consider, feel or imagine something as if it existed apart from the changes it goes through to become an image in the first place.  With the view camera I finally learned that a photograph is not just a finding but also a making:  a making whose trickery consists in presenting itself as a finding, and a finding whose mystery consists in being already-made as a condition of being findable at all.

My view camera was made by K.B. Canham of Ft. McDowell, Arizona.  It is a metal 4x5 camera that I value for its rugged construction and its unusual design––a field camera that behaves much like a studio camera, with a split rail at its base.  For the first three years of Alive and Destroyed, I mostly used a 90mm f/4.5 Nikkor SW wide angle lens.  This was the lens I used to make pictures at Gleis 17 in 2010, among the first images for Alive and Destroyed

Gleis 17, Berlin, 2010 / Canham 4x5 camera with 90mm Nikkor SW lens

In 2013, at the suggestion of my good friend, the photographer Craig Weiss, I began to explore the look of antique lenses, beginning with a highly unusual lens belonging to Craig, a 6¼ inch (158mm) f/6.5 Cooke Anastigmat mounted in a new Copal shutter.  The strong camera movements that I was working with often relied on the very edge of the image circle, a zone of fall-off or transition between the given drawing of the lens and the end of the image, and each lens handles that transition differently.  With Craig’s antique Cooke lens, this liminal area of the lens was particularly remarkable, and introduced new dimensions of picturing and of thinking, new ways of working with the falling-away of recognition and comprehension, and new ways of working with the blackness to which the image yielded at its edges.  Craig’s lens became essential to Alive and Destroyed, and eventually two other antique lenses also, a 127mm f/4.7 Kodak Ektar also mounted in a new Copal shutter, and a 90mm f/6.8 Schneider Angulon.

Kraków, Poland, 2015, among the remnants of KL Płaszów / Canham 4x5 camera with 6¼ inch Cooke Anastigmat lens


Lukiv, Ukraine, 2017, killing site of the Jews of Lukiv / Canham 4x5 camera with 6¼ inch Cooke Anastigmat lens

Drobitsky Yar, 2017, killing site of the Jews of Kharkov, Ukraine / Canham 4x5 camera with 6¼ inch Cooke Anastigmat lens

Between the summers of 2010 and 2017, I made some 5000 4x5 negatives for Alive and Destroyed, about three quarters of them in color, the rest in black and white.  Per my penchant for unfinishable, open-ended projects, this one could keep going for a lifetime.  It has been the center of my work during these years, and it spun off a great deal of other work––photo-essays, reportages, hybrid writings, reviews and criticism, exhibitions, altogether some 60 distinct works.  Almost all of them are available on my website, and almost none of them have been otherwise published or exhibited, including Alive and Destroyed.  (I have done them propulsively, compulsively, and by my wits, during summers and winters and sometimes whole semesters away from teaching, with hope for but no expectation of even a single other person's interest in my preoccupations––which feel to me like companions, important to me in and of themselves.)  In 2017, I realized with a certain clarity that Alive and Destroyed cannot simply keep going.  I needed to finish it, and determined that I would do so by the summer of 2018.  I am now in the midst of finishing it.

A little more than a month ago, I decided to return to Gleis 17 to make last pictures, perhaps not the very last but among the last.  Part of it was the appeal of a procedural symmetry, going back to one of the places where I began, and part of it was dissatisfaction with the work I did there in 2010, before I began to work with the antique glass.  Also I wanted to see it in the winter months, wondering how it would be different.  So on a cold and blustery day in early January 2018, I went to Grunewald Station.  The site was deserted, and I settled into what I expected would be several hours of work.  I had four cameras with me that day:  the Canham, my Leica Q, a 35mm Zeiss Contax IIa, and a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera.  Between these cameras I had nine lenses, eight of them detachable:  the three old lenses for the view camera, two vintage lenses for the Zeiss, and three antique 16mm cinema lenses for the Blackmagic.  It was a heavy bag.  

I began as I generally do by walking the site for awhile and saying the kaddish.  When I was ready to make pictures, I began with the Zeiss and the Leica, working both in tandem, black and white film in the Zeiss, the Leica for color, studying the site, receiving it, making photo-sketches, warming up to it.

Gleis 17, Berlin, January 2018 / Leica Q digital camera with fixed 28mm f/1.7 lens

After an hour or so, I exchanged the Zeiss for the Blackmagic video camera.  Since 2016, I have added an auxiliary project to Alive and Destroyed, what will be a multichannel gallery projection, deliberating forest sites and the forest as a place of terror and also of refuge.  So with my tripod and the Blackmagic fitted with an antique 25mm lens originally for 16mm cinema, I stepped off the platform at Gleis 17 and into the thicket of trees just next to it.  I fell into concentration, and got absorbed in what I was doing.  I lost track of time.  Maybe it was an hour that I was inside the video work, maybe longer.  These are some stills from the video pictures I made.

Gleis 17, Berlin, January 2018 / Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera with Kodak Cine Ektar 25mm f/1.9 lens

When I finally surfaced, I climbed back onto the platform, turned to where I had left my camera bag a few feet away, and saw––nothing.  Nothing:  on the platform, no camera bag.  I who live by my eyes could not believe my eyes.  It took me several minutes to grasp that someone had stolen it––had snuck up, grabbed the bag, and tiptoed away, leaving my dark cloth to mark the spot of the theft.

Never in my life in photography has anything like this happened to me.  The chutzpah of it was astonishing, and the violation, the sense of betrayal, of being touched by evil.  I felt sick and I felt stupid.  I had trusted the world, had turned my back on something valuable, even if only a few feet away, as if nothing would happen.  I shouted out loud:  “What!?!  You’re robbing me here, here of all places, here!”  I cursed and paced the platform, hoping to will the reality away.  In my bag were the rolls of Tri-X I had just exposed, my view camera and its three lenses, the Zeiss and its two lenses, my light meter, my notebook and my fountain pen, SD cards, sundry small items.  On my person was my Leica, the video camera with its three lenses, and my tripod.  It was about 2 in the afternoon.

When the reality stuck to me, I went into the tunnel running the width of the station, connecting Gleis 17 with the current S-Bahn platforms.  I don’t know German, and approached a commuter with a friendly face, asking if he could help me ask questions––to two drunks hanging out in the tunnel, to a woman selling pastries, a man selling flowers.  Did anyone see anything, notice anything?  This stranger was a kind person, and with his help I received exactly zero information from the people in the tunnel.  I looked for security cameras at Gleis 17, and found none––later the police confirmed that they don't exist.  The stranger advised me to go to a police station in Charlottenburg, and then found an even easier one to reach, in the Ostbahnhof, a simple train ride away.  So I rode the S-Bahn back into the city feeling dazed and ashamed and awful.  I estimated the cost of what I lost at about $3000, and the value of it much more.  Worst of all was the loss of Craig’s lens––Craig who had entrusted it to me on long-term loan, Craig who is utterly careful with everything and would never have had the kind of lapse I had.

The police station in the Ostbahnhof was not so easy to find, a non-descript door that opened after a grunt from an intercom and a buzzer, followed by a locked vestibule requiring a second grunt and buzzer to pass.  The on-duty officer and I did not share a language in common, and after awhile another officer appeared with whom I shared half a language.  It took an hour to generate the police report.  He asked me for photographs of the stolen items, and serial numbers of everything––neither of which I had.  It never occurred to me to keep a visual record of my gear, or any kind of inventory.  An acquaintance in Berlin, reflecting on the situation, remarked to me, “…Of course you didn’t keep a record of any of it, because you think of your camera as if it were your body.  For you to inventory your cameras would be like inventorying your arms.”  I suppose she was right.  In the following days I was able to come up with numbers for a few things, based on what I could discern from blown up pictures in which my gear appeared.  Craig, being Craig, had a record of the number of his lens.

I wrote emails to lots of camera dealers and shops in Berlin and around Germany––in Google-German, which is apparently not so terrible coming from English––explaining what had happened and asking people to keep a look out.  I wrote to friends asking them to post the information to social media.  I received many kind responses, more than I anticipated.  Telling myself that it could have been worse, that things are only things and can be replaced, I made my way with a heavy spirit to Kraków, where I will be living for the better part of the coming year, doing my best to finish the pictures and writing for Alive and Destroyed and also a long-term project on KL Płaszów.

I monitored German eBay, as did a couple of friends.  Several days after the theft, my former student Elena Sergeeva, who lived in Berlin for some time and knows German, found a promising listing for a Canham 4x5 camera with three lenses, made more promising by the suspicious fact of no photographs to go with the auction.  By way of my friend, the journalist Uwe von Seltmann, I was able to get requests to the seller to post pictures.  When the pictures were posted, it was immediately clear that this was not my camera.  I wrote a philosophical letter to my daughter Miriam ruminating on what it's like to lose important things––a letter on paper, in ink, and sent by regular mail, as if to test the universe to see whether it would lose something else of mine.  Miriam got the letter, but there was no sign of any of my equipment.

And then, at the end of January, I did a search on German eBay late one night, and found a new auction for a Canham 4x5 camera, from a dealer in Berlin.  This is not a common camera to find at auction, and my heart started beating.  The listing did have pictures, many of them, clear and professionally made, and I saw immediately that this was my camera.  And the same seller had auctions for three lenses, also profusely illustrated with pictures––my lenses.  With a pang of shock strangely similar to the shock of the original theft––but this time the shock of good luck rather than bad luck––I wrote to Uwe, asking him to contact the Berlin police for the next steps.  This was the point that luck met work, specifically the work of kind-hearted friends.  Uwe, from Gdynia, Poland, where he is trying to finish a book under deadline, proceeded to spend a miserable half day in a telephone goose-chase with one Berlin police office after another.  Without knowing it, I had filed the report at a federal police station, and the file had wound its way from place to place until finally reaching the desk of a local detective assigned to deal with small scale personal thefts.  This detective advised that I buy the items myself at auction, and arrange to pick them up in person in Berlin, and a plainclothes officer would accompany me to the meeting.

Were it the US, this would have struck me as potentially a dangerous plan.  Someone had sent me a story of a guy getting shot trying to retrieve his stolen camera gear.  But this was Germany and not Texas, and some directive was better than none.  The more proximate problem was actually winning the eBay auctions.  These were three day auctions with no option for immediate purchase.  I turned to Craig, an expert’s expert at eBay, from his years as the photography manager at Stanford––with special knowledge of how to swoop in at the last second to win an item.  Craig told me that this situation would be challenging even for him, as all four auctions ended at precisely the same moment, but he would try.  I told him to prioritize getting his lens back.

When the auction ended, my camera had sold for €992, Craig’s 6¼ inch Cooke for €348, my 127mm Ektar for €151, and the 90mm Schneider for €140––altogether, €1631, approximately $2025.  I could see that one buyer had purchased all the lenses, which turned out to be Craig, and a different buyer had purchased the camera.  Craig was very upset with himself for not being able to get all the items. 
 
What followed was a lot of communication between Craig and the eBay seller, and between me and the Berlin police by way of Uwe.  I of course did not know whether the eBay seller knew that he was selling stolen materials.  My guess was that he did not know, because he had been a reputable eBay camera seller for many years, and because (thinking about it Jewishly) I figured that if he were the thief, he would expect that one of the people searching eBay might be the victim, and would do something to make it difficult for the victim to recognize the equipment––the opposite of the forthright way the auctions were conducted.  Still, I could not be sure.  I told Craig to tell the seller that someone would be picking up the gear on his behalf in Berlin, and thought––since my name was on a luggage tag on the camera bag, if the seller is in fact the thief, then he might recognize me if I give my real name.  Craig asked me what my pseudonym should be, and into my mind sprung one Willie Mays Rabinowitz, born Wolf Mordechai Rabinowitz except that he, like me, loved the San Francisco Giants a little too much––the thought of him made me laugh for what seemed the first time in a month.  But if the seller were the thief and if he knew anything about baseball, he would see through this pseudonym, so what to do?  As it turned out, the seller was under the impression that Craig himself would be meeting him, and the pseudonym was moot.

I traveled from Kraków to Berlin with an appointment to meet the seller on a Monday afternoon.  For much of the day Monday, I was on and off the phone with the Berlin detective assigned to the case, Stefan Kliesch, who spoke excellent English.  At first he was skeptical of my claim on the items, telling me that the only real proof was the serial numbers, and dismissing my claim to knowing the equipment simply from experience.  My list of numbers was incomplete, and those I had given did not precisely match what could be seen in the eBay auction pictures.  I explained to him in detail the particularities of each item––qualitatively––and finally he asked me simply to resend the entire list of items I had lost.  He told me that he would be going to see the eBay seller by himself on Monday afternoon, without me.  In my last conversation with him, I could tell by the tone of his voice that something had changed.  This case had somehow become personal for him, and he wanted to solve it.

Late in the day on Monday, I received a text message:  “He has it all, everything!  Call him tomorrow.”  I was incredulous, and when I talked to him the next morning, he told me to meet him the following day at a police building near the Ostbahnhof.  And on Wednesday morning, I got off the train at the Ostbahnhof, walked by the police office where I had filed the original report, and made my way to a massive, imposing building out of what looked like darkest Stasi-era east Berlin.  It was the same story of grunts and buzzers at the entrance to this building, along with a few rounds of internal phone calls, because no one seemed to know who Stefan Kliesch was.  At last Stefan arrived, and we walked together through the labyrinth of a building to his office.  Stefan:  a powerful man, over six feet tall, and as I found out, a triathlete––in his mid-fifties, with the body of a man twenty years younger.  He was effusively friendly, smiling ear to ear, and insisted I call him by his first name.  In his office––proud to be showing off his English to his colleagues, who grudgingly nodded their respect to him and put on their headphones––he wanted to chat with me.  We talked about sports, and motorcycles, and his travels in the US, and about Berlin.  After forty five minutes and no mention of the theft, I said, “Well, great, Stefan, er, well, and how about the camera?”  At this he gestured to a cardboard box on a table, and said, “Ah, yes, what you came for.  Please examine each of these items in detail.”  And one by one, ceremoniously, he pulled out my view camera, each of the three lenses, and then my Contax, and its two lenses, and then my light meter, and a bag of cable releases and miscellany.  I was astonished.

And he told me the story:  on Monday, he went to the flat of the seller, who was aghast that the police would turn up to inquire about stolen material.  Stefan produced the complete list of stolen items, and the seller had everything on it, right there in his flat, a match so clear that any question about serial numbers immediately became irrelevant.  A couple of weeks before, a local pawn shop specializing in old cameras had called this eBay seller, saying they had something new that he might be interested to buy and auction off.  He went to take a look and was told that someone had come in to sell this equipment, explaining that it had belonged to an old and infirm man who needed the cash.  The eBay seller bought everything in the bag for €600.  He was an honest person and had never dealt in stolen items, and was very upset at the prospect that the police would arrest him or shut down his internet business.  Stefan could see that the eBay seller was innocent, and the next day they went together to the pawn shop, where Stefan told the shopkeeper he would put him out of business if he didn’t return the seller's money, and give the name of the person who had sold him the stolen goods.  

Before I left his office, Stefan had given me his home address and phone number and insisted that I see him again the next time I was in Berlin.  He walked me out to the front door and would have accompanied me to the train station if I hadn’t known my way.  I will never forget his handshake and the look of pride in his eyes, pride at good luck and good work, and something else also in his eyes––something like love mixed with remorse.  This something else had everything to do with Gleis 17.  In his office, Stefan had said to me, “If this had happened at Alexanderplatz or at the Brandenburg Tor [tourist areas], well, okay, but the fact that it happened there, at Gleis 17, and to a Jew….” and a look of disgust crossed his face, as if he were imagining someone getting pickpocketed at Auschwitz.  He said, “I spent time on your website, and I know the work you do.  It was really important to me that you should not think badly of Berlin, or think of us now as if we were the way we were back then…”  Stefan's reflexive use of "we" to refer both to Germans today and Germans in the Nazi period indicated how profound German social examination of collective responsibility has been.  This "we"––the same word to indicate a different consciousness, an acceptance of the past precisely in order not to reproduce it––this "we" was the essence of everthing he said.  He had recognized that this was not an ordinary theft, and not just because my camera bag does not have typical photographic gear.  He saw that there was something else at stake in solving this theft, something historical and ethical, a chance to make a small but deeply meaningful point about his own integrity as a German, on behalf of a society whose laws and values he was charged to uphold.  And before we parted, he gave me the eBay seller’s phone number and asked me to call him.

A few hours later, I did call the eBay seller, who also spoke excellent English, and I heard the story from his point of view.  He was exceedingly apologetic.  His story was in substance the same as Stefan’s, with the anecdote that he had sold my camera to someone in China, had boxed it and was on his way out the door to the post office, when his wife told him she had just made lunch, and why didn’t he sit down and eat with her before going out.  Stefan’s visit interrupted that lunch.  Had she not made lunch, or had she made lunch just a little later, the camera would have been sent to China, and would be for all intents and purposes irretrievable.  He asked me why I had contacted the police at all and had not just contacted him, and then answered his own question, “Ah, because you had no way of knowing I wasn’t the thief, of course!”  And we speculated together about how it could have happened, and who might have done it, and that it happened to a Jew at Gleis 17, and he said to me, “Listen, Jason, I don’t want you to think badly of us in Berlin…”  And he insisted that the next time I come to the city, I join him and his camera buddies at their Sunday stammtisch.  I told him in return that I wanted to know that he got his money back, which he promised to inform me about––and did by text, several days later, when the pawn shop owner finally repaid him, though it required further intervention from Stefan.

So I left Stefan’s office with 90% of what had been stolen from me a month before.  I did not have the exposed 35mm film, my notebook, my fountain pen, and my bag itself, and the tools, SD cards and small items.  I decided to buy a new camera backpack, and went to the Berlin Calumet.  Actually I had already been there, because I had already been thinking about replacing it.  At the Calumet, I got into conversation with a salesman by the name of Ulf Patscheider, and could not keep from telling him my story.  He wanted to see the items, and so I pulled them from my rucksack one by one, a little ceremoniously, and told him about each one.  Unlike the eBay seller, who knew something about old cameras, Ulf really knew cameras, and marveled especially at the rarity of the antique view camera lenses custom mounted into new shutters, and of course the 1952 Zeiss Contax in near mint condition, which had been the pearl of the postwar West German camera industry.  And Ulf said to me, “Actually I heard this story, because I was one of the people who received the emails you sent out after it happened.  Plus there was discussion about it online.  People could not believe that this happened where it did.”  He asked me if I were Jewish, suspecting I was, and said, “I am so, so glad for you, and I hope you will not think badly of us in Berlin...”  When it was time to pay for the bag, Ulf to my surprise reduced the price by 30%, without saying anything.

Outside the Calumet, I transferred my gear into the new backpack.  I was set to leave Berlin the next day, but there was one thing left to do.  I got on the S-Bahn and rode to the Grunewald Station.  It was about 4 pm and the sun was poking through the clouds on its way toward the horizon.  I set up my camera, put Craig’s lens on it, took into myself the melancholic and fugitive world it showed me, said the kaddish and a heartfelt shechecheyanu, and made the pictures of the fucking Holocaust platform that I set out to make a month before.

Gleis 17, Berlin, 2018 / Canham 4x5 camera with 6¼ inch Cooke Anastigmat lens

Maybe Alive and Destroyed will be published, and maybe it will not be––I am good at finding the energy to do my work and very bad at finding the inclination to promote it, good for being its creator and very bad for being its ambassador.  Maybe it has an audience, and maybe it does not.  Maybe it is contemporary art and maybe it is documentary and maybe it is neither.  Those ambiguities are bearable.  It could be that all of it has been for the sake of losing my tools and finding them again, an experience of mysterious and multivalent lessons.


Kraków, February 2018