Genocides' Silent Witnesses Project Statement

Landscape.  Witness.

The landscape witnesses all. It is complicit in the crime of genocide through its inaction. 

The absurdity of equating the landscape with perpetrators of genocide suggests metaphoricity -- a tool I use to challenge our fatigue with traditional means of communicating the all too familiar genocide narrative.

Like the landscape that silently witnesses, so most of humanity is aware but unengaged in the effort to end genocide. We look without seeing. Through veils of our own making.

I have taken every image in this ongoing project within witness distance of a specific site of modern day genocide. In contrast to the precise locations, the images are non-specific. Either by blurring the landscape, partially obscuring the view or otherwise creating abstract images of specific sites of genocides' atrocities, we remember that "that place" can be "any place."  To that end, I choose not to identify each image by specific location, other than to say each picture is "witness" to a precise set of GPS-coordinates where an act of genocide was perpetrated.

With each frame I shoot, I reflect on the ethics of seeing. I invite you to consider our personal and collective responsibility of bearing witness.  

After declaring "never again" we have collectively enabled the perpetrators of genocide over one dozen times since the end of World War Two. This ongoing project looks at the continuity of genocide and uses the landscape to metaphorically connect the post-World War Two genocides. In fact it is us as humans that are the real connective tissue between each occurrence of genocide across the world.

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I am deeply grateful to Yahad-In Unum, the French non-profit organization started by Father Patrick Desbois to investigate the genocide of the Second World War for providing detailed location data of unmarked mass graves in Poland and Ukraine.  Further, I was only able to identify several locations of acts of genocide in Poland thanks to the research that the Office of Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland, so openly shared with me.  I am currently in pre-production to continue shooting this project in Bosnia and Rwanda in 2017.  This gallery showcases only a small selection of this ongoing project.  For more information, please contact studio@barrysalzman.net.