Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Michelle: Art and Shadows

Drawing in Marian Kolodziej's Labyrinth,  a testimony to his five years in Auschwitz.
This morning we went to the art exhibition of a very interesting man, Marian Kolodziej. He spent five years in the camps, primarily Auschwitz, which is phenomenal when most sent there only lasted weeks or months. He was number 432. After Liberation, he did not speak of his time there for over 40 years. He then had a stroke, and was finally compelled to give the world a piece, just a slice, of what he felt in the camp. He used the art as a way to heal from the stroke, and give testimony of his life during the Holocaust.

Another drawing: depicting the longing eyes of prisoners.
Many of his drawings were intriguing in the macabre, full of symbolic images and detailed drawings of people he remembered purely from memory. What astonished me was that he designed the exhibit himself! Well, I shouldn't really call it an exhibit. He didn't. Instead he said:

"This is not an exhibit, nor art, nor images, but words contained in designs."

His words are as powerful, even after his death, than 'real' words. Staring at the pen-strokes I got chills, feeling the pain he did when his hand pressed against the paper. Intricate shadows and lines made every picture worth looking at for many minutes at a time. However, we did not get as much time as I would have wanted there. I tried to take pictures of everything, in order to feel and experience more of his feelings.

Later, we went back to Auschwitz unguided. The five of us went to the exhibitions for the Roma, Austrians, Slovaks, and French. We actually got the lights shut off on us in the Roma exhibition, since it was closing time! Besides that frightening experience, all four exhibitions were extremely interesting. It was weird to see each perspective because sometimes they differed in their memories of histories. Between the four though, my favorite was the French. It was so interesting because they had a room a white lighted panels dedicated to specific numbers of transported and murdered victims. Also, it had shadows on the wall to represent mysterious victims. While it was incredibly creepy, it really added to the feeling of not really walking alone through Auschwitz, even if you are alone.

Appearance of shadow in French exhibition
And so I said goodbye to the grounds of Auschwitz for the trip, although it is consistently going to stay with me in words, actions, and dreams. The emptiness is going to continue to shatter through every thought I have from now on, with violent reason and clarity.


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