The Shoah Scrolls
The Shoah Scrolls (1998) concerns the documentary photographs of the Holocaust, their alternately visceral and uncertain place in memory. The project investigates the nature of the direct appeal that the historical photographs make, the ambiguous qualities of their testimony, and the ways that remembrance is both an ethical imperative, and a perilous task of reconstructing catastrophic events. Moving “into” the historical images, I reaggregate their aspects to form twenty 1 x (approximately) 25 foot scrolls, each treating a complex of related events, for example mass murder in the villages of the East, the streets of the Warsaw Ghetto, forced labor at Birkenau. Working from 35mm negatives exposed backward in the camera to form a distinctive pattern of banding, the scrolls themselves are digitally printed. Altogether the project comprises twenty scrolls.
The two pictures here show details of “Birkenau Scroll,” the first in the series. Together they represent the first 1/4 of the scroll.