Auschwitz – Birkenau
“In Auschwitz there was snow …”
This phrase from a famous song by Francesco Guccini helps to present the photographs that Michele Polisena captured in the former concentration camp. Michele visited the camp for a photographic project, to not forget.
The camera as a tool to secure the memory, a memory that cannot vanish into the wind.
Analog support and black and white shots were used for a clean and rigorous style, a simplicity that hides a sophisticated composition, carefully combined with the ability to relive the Auschwitz tragedy in a few powerful shots.
The work opens with a diptych: the vanishing point that is lost in the snow, defined by barbed wire fences, in contrast with the shadows of two men, almost like deposited soot. You can see it all: the deportation, the snow, the hardship, the loss of humanity, the disappearance of man to dust, soot that first rises in the wind and then falls into shadow.
You must enter the underworld, falling into the abyss of evil. An almost trivial photograph, but so powerful, the entry to the ovens. Black of soot. Black of pain.
You have to give a face to those who were even deprived of a name, to become a number, give them a name to make it man. There are many faces on the walls: you can just get a glimpse of them. Men women and children. Each one a different story. Each one the same end.
The broken and hoarded crockery, public latrines, cancellation: the infinite void.
Michele Polisena wanted to emphasize control, enclosure, forced confinement with his insistence on barbed wire, the sentry boxes, and on the border lost beneath the white.
His photography is a powerful one, in its simplicity. The endless perspective plans seem to ask us if there will ever be an end to this … Insistence on the forms, circles, the horizontal and vertical lines (the uniforms suspended without bodies, for example), the fullness and emptiness of spaces, the vanishing lines that run on implying the possibility of endless reiteration, in an elegant composure, emphasize and highlight the completed tragedy.
The last picture speaks a different language from the rest of the story. A mobile train, a moving train, the time that expands and reaches us. To remind us that evil is still on the move today.
Laura Davì, photoeditor