What happens to places which witnessed terrible massacres, genocide? Left alone, gradually are taken over by the nature. They become overgrown... Death zones left to nature gradually begin to change. On one hand it could be perceived as the triumph of life, however, on the other hand, they could be seen as the disintegration of the place of the massacre.
The works presented at the exhibition ‘Archeology’ and ‘Polish art and the Holocaust’ are in an interesting dialogue with the works of artists who were not able to deal with the trauma because what is left for them after the Holocaust is only death and emptiness.
The Monument-Stations project in Auschwitz-Birkenau by Oskar Hansen, Zofia Hansen, Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz, Edmund Kupiecki, Julian Pałaka and Lechosław Rosiński from 1958 presumed the ‘freezing’ of the camp area. Only a concrete footbridge leading across the camp was meant to be available for the visitors. The rest of the area was supposed to be closed and preserved from any other human interventions. The preparation drawings for the project show the vision of the camp after years, covered in long grass, with trees growing from the pit toilets, with the ruins of the camp buildings. The preservation of the camp seems to be only an illusion. The nature takes over. Undoubtedly, the project can be interpreted as a permission for the natural destruction? of the area where people committed terrible massacres. The work can be seen in Kordegarda Gallery at Krakowskie Przedmieście 15/17.
Elżbieta Janicka in the series of photographs “Herbarium” from 2004 also indicates the extraordinary power of Nature, which revives in the place of terrible massacre, which is the forrest in Treblinka. The ashes from the crematorium become covered with flora. Janicka thoroughly documents the process of the area becoming overgrown, adding Latin names for plants as if it was a herbarium. Wild flowers amaze us with their beauty in a place marked with misery and death. The work is on exhibition in Jewish Historical Institute.
The determination of Nature to find a way to survive and the ability to adapt to almost any kinds of conditions is remarkable. Even in the face of terrible crimes, life turns out to be stronger than death.