Majdanek in Leszek Mądzik's photography
The exhibition is made up of 21 photos taken at the State Museum at Majdanek from January 2010 to April 2011. They are complemented with some information on the history of KL Lublin and spatial arrangement of the Museum at Majdanek, as well as with texts by Leszek Mądzik.
Scenario: Danuta Olesiuk
Graphic design: Krzysztof Kokowicz
The date of the exhibition: 18/09–1/10/2012
Place of presentation: Litewski Square, Lublin
Leszek Mądzik: The Light of Drama
Just like then, the light swept the ground, barracks, wires – everything that created the world of people sentenced to death. But they are not here anymore. The imagination reconstructs the tragic events in the spaces that have witnesses them. The place shouts of silence as its occupants became silent forever. The daylight reveals what has remained, the rays peep into the rooms thus becoming the guide who shows you round those past years.
I went on a journey with my camera, believing that everything that belonged to this world has been taken away by the memory. I feel that a detail or texture can also speak and create tension, cause unrest and call back the atmosphere of the past tragic events. What I was looking for was frugality, just to avoid the word destitution, of every detail and panorama of the camp.
In the photos presented, there are no people but we can intuitively sense their presence in the world of apparently indifferent objects and empty interiors. The time tries to erase its own activity. It covers everything with patina and rust, and as the substance is non-durable, not everlasting – a photograph will bear the trace, even if it is half-way, and reveal something that was not once faded, although always stigmatized by death. It is the death that subconsciously speaks from the images that I wanted to capture. If you want to sense it you should use your imagination, which I unobtrusively try to give direction to in the first photos.
The less literal the image is, the more space is left for imagination of the people who look at it. It was not my intention to create the documentation of this place sanctified by blood and death. What I really wanted was to show the absurdity and existentialism preserved under the lid of the shutter. I visited the Majdanek necropolis at different times of the year. Each season showed the vile and barbarous experiment in a different way. Even nature could not save the life changed into hell, or at least ease the pain.
The reason why I wanted to be a witness by means of photographing the places confined by barbed wire and a watchtower (not resembling a church tower at all) was the belief that I will leave the world filtered through the experience of my meeting with the theatre, the world which wants to talk about a human being in silence, without any words.
Danuta Olesiuk: Majdanek in Leszek Mądzik’s Photography
Landscapes with wooden buildings mantled by snow evoke associations with Julian Fałat’s winter paintings… The abundance of shades of gray on the walls brings back memories of the tasteful selection of colours in James McNeill Whistler’s pictures… The minimalism and simplicity with which the concrete blocks are captured refer to the means of expression characteristic for Japanese art… This is Majdanek, a German concentration camp, in the photographs by Leszek Mądzik.
In a few photo sessions, the artist has created the images in which one can sense the tension created by the discrepancy between the perfectly taken frames and the history of the places and objects presented in them. The former German concentration camp has been portrayed by the artist, nevertheless, the portrayal is also an objective presentation of the existing space stigmatized by death.
Nature tones down the image of the crime scene. The sunlight, reflecting off the icy posts of the camp fence and diffusing in the snowdrifts covering the roll-call squares, draws the attention to the visual side of the buildings thus providing contrast to their real purpose. The wooden buildings surrounded by the electrified barbed wire fence were the prison for thousands of people; the barber’s room and the bathhouse, covered with gray plaster, were the witnesses of the first contact the prisoners had with the camp; the concrete rollers were used by the inmates for building roads…