Special Treatment is an installation consisting of a number of related works that results from a deep meditation on the enduring presence of a historically contested site: the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
An important part of historical record is the relationship between the material remains and what can be understood. This work focuses on modes and practices of re-presentation in order to attempt to represent that which persists: forms of memory, the activity of witnessing and the relationship between absence and presence.
A projected film with a first-person voiceover considers the limits of representation in trying to reconcile the horrific past of the site with the contemporary tourist destination that exists today. The photographic component of installation functions as a dialogue between the past and the present, the record of a series of attempts to re-capture the four photographs taken by Sonderkomando members in 1944 at Birkenau’s crematorium V. The gesture to re-create those photographs results in a kind of representational failure.
While the film presents the camp as it is experienced now, the photobook functions as a deconstruction of Wanda Jakubowska’s narrative film, The Last Stage, which was made in Auschwitz in 1947. The film explores the experience of the camp from a female perspective, through a number of key characters. Using stills and image fragments, the photobook is a commentary on images, their use and their power to tell a story, while emphasizing the distorting aspect of fictional representation.
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