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Powerful landscapes make history real

Powerful landscapes make history real

An exhibition of contemporary photography featuring landscapes taken at Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland go on display at the George Fraser Gallery, at the University of Auckland, as part of the Festival of Photography next month.

The large-scale images by Melbourne-based artist Bronek Kozka from his series Auschwitz Revisited, began as a personal journey to see the country his family originated from.

Kozka, whose grandmother was Jewish but converted to Catholicism, travelled to Poland in an attempt to understand its relevance to his identity. A visit to the infamous former concentration camp, built and operated by Germany’s Third Reich during World War II, started a powerful new body of work for the artist.

“Before visiting Auschwitz I had no idea the impact it would have on me. I have always had a good knowledge of WW2 and the Holocaust, I had been to Dachau in Germany and I had read a lot. My expectation was that I would be horrified, that it would be awful... I’d learn something from the experience and I’d be on my way. The strongest memory is standing in the bitter cold looking to a foggy horizon and seeing what looked like columns: they were not columns they were chimneystacks for as far as I could see. One chimney, one hut... the magnitude of the horror dawned on me at this moment,” he says.

Kozka, who lectures in art at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, originally had no plans for the photographs, and didn’t even develop the film for months. However when he did, he decided the images should be large enough in scale to confront the audience.

“It was while at the camp that the most frightening and daunting revelation occurred to me. How close my family was to Auschwitz! How easily they could have ended up there rather than in the Russian labour camp they were deported to. The holocaust ceased to just be a historical event and became something very real to me,” he says.

Auschwitz Revisited
By Bronek Kozka
George Fraser Gallery
25a Princes Street
Auckland Central
Opening 5.30pm, Tuesday 3 June
Exhibition runs until 21 June

Hosted by Elam School of Fine Arts.
In association with the Festival of Photography.

The University of Auckland’s National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries comprises the Elam School of Fine Arts, School of Architecture and Planning, the Centre for Art Studies, the School of Music and the Dance Studies Programme.


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