released (april 16, 1945) details

Color photographs, lacquer, wood. 6 units, all 39″ wide and 2″ deep; heights: 3.5″, 4.5″, 4.5″, 5.5″, 5.5″, 14.5″. Dim. installed: 14.5 x 250 x 2″ (installation view, Museo Alejandro Otero, Caracas). Collection Museo Alejandro Otero.

Six boxes, all of the same length and depth and with varying heights, are mounted horizontally on the wall. Each box bears a blown up photograph of a caption of a fairly famous photograph that was taken in the concentration camp Buchenwald on April 16, 1945, and appeared in various newspapers of the time and in books later on. The six photographs presented here are of six different captions that accompanied the same picture published in different publications. Those photographs are attached to the front of the boxes and coated with lacquer.

In this work, I take the idea of text as image almost literal. April 16, 1945, is a work that brings together photographs of different captions. The captions all refer to one and the same photograph, which, however, is not shown anywhere in the piece. Some news photographs have circled and stirred the world. Their captions go well beyond mere description. Presented here without the corresponding photograph, they speak, in part, to the mythical construction of the absent photograph and the historical event represented by it.

Text sources and captions:

– Confronted with the evidence. Military police (left background) of the U.S. 3d Army keep an eye on citizens of Weimar forced to stand text sources look at truckload of dead prisoners at Buchenwald death camp. [Daily News. April 26, 1945, p. 23, early edition]

– Figure 15. German civilians view corpses at Buchenwald, April 16, 1945, by NARA. [Barbie Zelizer, Remembering to Forget, University of Chicago Press, 1998]

– At Buchenwald.–Our Special Correspondent told the story of the horrors of Buchenwald concentration camp in The Times yesterday. This picture was taken as citizens from Weimar were shown a lorry found loaded with corpses. The bodies were all terribly emaciated. [The Times (London), April 19, 1945, p. 6]

– Another scene which the citizens of Weimar were forced to witness–a truckload of tortured and murdered prisoners in the Buchenwald camp, whose horrors the citizens made no attempts to prevent. [Illustrated London News, April 28, 1945, p. IV]

– When the 3rd Army troops had occupied Buchenwald two days before, that tough soldier, General Patton, had been so incensed at what he saw that he ordered his police to go through Weimar, of which Buchenwald is a suburb, and bring back one thousand civilians to make them see with their own eyes what their leaders had done. The MP’s were so enraged that they brought back two thousand. –Margaret Bourke White [The Liberators. The Simon Wiesenthal Center Honors the American Soldiers Who Liberated European Jewry, New York City, 1985]

– Auf ihrer Führung durch das K.Z. Buchenwald blicken Weimarer Buerger auf einen der hoch mit Leichen beladenen Wagen. [Irving Bernstein File. The Yaffa Eliach Collection donated to the Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York]