Tag Archives: Poland

the choreography of trees ~ Zabno

I’m standing at the edge of the cemetery at Zabno watching a Roma memorial service. Everyone is gathered around a marble tombstone that marks a mass grave, one of the few Roma memorials in Poland. It is unknown who is buried here, or how many…47, 49, 59, 61…there is even confusion about the date…June 20th, July 8th…all that is known for sure is that it was 1943.

Zabno 2012, pinhole photograph © Roz Mortimer

                                                                      Zabno, 2012. Pinhole Photograph. © Roz Mortimer

At first it seems like a beautiful day, but a tornado has been forecast, and after the service is over, the vodka has been poured on the ground and everyone has wandered off, I am standing alone by the tomb when the wind swells up as if out of nowhere. I stay filming the birch trees thrashing about in the gale.

Their branches are like tendrils, reaching out to the next tree as the air swirls around.
A choreography of trees.
It is beautiful, but it feels as if the world is angry.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bielcza IV – history or memory

On July 16th 1942 in this place, German soldiers shot and killed 28 Roma, all members of the Kwiek family. They were buried in a shallow unmarked grave in this forest clearing on the edge of the village of Bielcza. Three years later, the villagers exhumed the bodies and buried them in a mass grave in the local cemetery.

I am thinking of Nora’s Lieux d’Mémoire, about what makes a place a site of memory rather than a site of history…this place is unmemorialised, but there seems to be a will to remember…firstly from the villagers, then more recently from Bartosz’s initiative the Roma Memory Caravan, and finally from Roma themselves.

Posted in Bielcza | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bielcza III – driving in circles

In Adam Bartosz’s office earlier that day he had pulled out maps to show me the exact location of this place.
He said ‘it’s between the houses and the bushes, you will see an indentation in the earth’ and drew me a diagram on a post it note.
finding Bielcza

It took us 2 days to find. The forest was overgrown. We drove in circles around the village scrutinizing every indentation. Was this the place? Did it feel like the place? Could we feel anything?

On the morning of the second day he arranged for her to be waiting for us. She took me by the hand and led me into the forest. ‘This is the place’ she said. She remembered when it had happened in 1942 and she was distressed that the place had become so unkempt and overgrown.

Posted in Bielcza | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bielcza I

I’m standing in a forest clearing on the edge of a remote village in Southern Poland. There is no marker here, no memorial. The clearing is overgrown and unkempt. It feels important that I am here.
A shaft of sunlight appears and lights the spot.
this is the place

Posted in Bielcza | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bielcza II – sketching the uncanny

I stand for a long time looking this place. The sunlight flickers in and out. Later I began to re-work my footage to communicate something of the uncanny nature of this place.

Posted in Bielcza | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Auschwitz

Its early in the morning and I am standing inside the gas chamber at Auschwitz I. The crowds haven’t arrived yet. This dark place has a visceral effect on me.

Posted in Memorials | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Auschwitz/Birkenau

Its early in the morning and I am standing inside the gas chamber at Auschwitz I. The crowds haven’t arrived yet. This dark place has a visceral effect on me.

http://vimeo.com/34563512

Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Bielcza

On July 16th 1942 in Bielcza, Poland, German soldiers shot and killed 28 Roma, all members of the Kwiek family. They were buried in an unmarked grave in a forest clearing in the centre of the village. Three years later, the villagers exhumed the bodies and buried them in a mass grave in the local cemetery.
this is the place
There is no marker here, no memorial. The clearing is overgrown and unkempt. It feels important that I am here. A shaft of sunlight appears and lights the spot.
In Adam Bartosz’s office earlier that day he had pulled out maps to show me the exact location of this place.
He said ‘it’s between the houses and the bushes, you will see an indentation in the earth’ and drew me a diagram on a post it note.
finding Bielcza

It took us 2 days to find. The forest was overgrown. We drove in circles around the village scrutinizing every indentation. Was this the place? Did it feel like the place? Could we feel anything?

On the morning of the second day he arranged for her to be waiting for us. She took me by the hand and led me into the forest. ‘This is the place’ she said. She remembered when it had happened in 1942 and she was distressed that the place had become so unkempt and overgrown.

I am thinking of Nora’s Lieux d’Mémoire, about what makes a place a site of memory rather than a site of history…this place is unmemorialised, but there seems to be a will to remember…firstly from the villagers, then more recently from Bartosz’s initiative the Roma Memory Caravan, and finally from Roma themselves.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment