'And he knew that those who witnessed these things might be too stunned to speak', 2017, still 'And he knew that those who witnessed these things might be too stunned to speak', 2017, still 'And he knew that those who witnessed these things might be too stunned to speak', 2017, still 'And he knew that those who witnessed these things might be too stunned to speak', 2017, still 'And he knew that those who witnessed these things might be too stunned to speak', 2017, still 'And he knew that those who witnessed these things might be too stunned to speak', 2017, still 'And he knew that those who witnessed these things might be too stunned to speak', 2017, still 'And he knew that those who witnessed these things might be too stunned to speak', 2017, still 'And he knew that those who witnessed these things might be too stunned to speak', 2017, still 'And he knew that those who witnessed these things might be too stunned to speak', 2017, still 'And he knew that those who witnessed these things might be too stunned to speak', 2017, still 'And he knew that those who witnessed these things might be too stunned to speak', 2017, still
And he knew that those who witnessed these things
might be too stunned to speak
2017

Installation, mixed media: 16mm projection, 3’’, continuous loop;
2k projection 18’17’’, loop;
sound 18'17'', loop;
framed letter, baryta print, 26x38cm

The work deals with how the claim to an impossibility of 'witnessing' the Holocaust is still retained through political speech. With the recurrent rise of Nationalisms throughout the world we must ask ourselves why notions like ‘the unimaginable’ and ‘the unthinkable’ activated whenever a president speaks about warfare?

The presented footage consists of 16mm fragments of 'Special Film Project 186', assigned by US Army Air forces to a crew of cameramen and movie directors – mostly from Hollywood – with the task of producing “the most complete and comprehensive propaganda color film of the war ever made.” The project was never completed. Primarily documenting the Allied aerial bombing campaign on Germany, a few reels of film depict the consequences of Nazi terror in Buchenwald concentration camp promptly after its liberation in April 1945. Their declassification in the 1960’s, mark a significant moment in which Holocaust discourses began to emerge throughout the West.

Rather than showing the horrific scenes as they were recorded in Buchenwald, the installation takes us to shots of the bombing campaign that the United States conducted throughout Germany at the end of the war. As the image of a plane circling through the sky becomes clear, we enter Buchenwald as we see German citizens of the nearby town of Weimar that are being forced by the US military to walk through the camp. They are guided by Allied soldiers through the courtyard of the crematorium of Buchenwald - where dozens of bodies are stacked up on the floor and in carriages, and many more are scattered on the floor throughout the camp - while in other parts of the camp re-enactments and demonstrations are taking place in which people who were formerly imprisoned in Buchenwald act out scenes in an attempt to make evident the violence that took place in Buchenwald on a daily base. Significantly, Barack Obama repeatedly made reference to these events in speeches before and during his presidency in correlation to a specific part of his personal family history. In these speeches he blurs the distinctions between the responsibility of the State and its citizens, the present and the past and one atrocious event and the other.

The work addresses the manner in which the representation of the Holocaust is constantly inscribed onto our retina- while revealing its deep connections with Hollywood from 1945 onwards- and questions its use as political currency to legitimise current political (in) action and warfare.
Anna Dasovic ()