The Blue Skies Project (in progress)
"Consciousness has internalized and submerged the sensation of the bold summer colours of that immense space; of the cerulean skies, the aeroplanes – and of the boy gazing at them and forgetting everything around him. There is almost no return to that Metropolis, with its sombre colours, with the sense of the immutable law that encloses all its beings within confines of allotted time and of death; that is, there is almost no sense of a return to that world without a sense of return to those wonderful colours, to that tranquil, magical and beckoning experience of those blue skies of the summer of 1944 in Auschwitz-Birkenau."
from: Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death - Otto Dov Kulka; Published by Allen Lane, 2013, ISBN 978-1-84614-683-1; p76.
Seventy-five years ago, human beings succeeded in creating an industrial system to use up, deplete, and ultimately obliterate other human beings.
Today, one thousand and seventy-four silent blue skies, photographed exactly above every single coordinate where that genocidal act took place, collectively contain the memory and bear witness to the trauma of the holocaust that happened below.
These skies, blind-stamped with identification numbers and GPS coordinates, represent the paradox of the final step, the oblivion into which every single victim vanished, yet metaphysically remains present.
What started out as an act of trying to understand a history beyond the realm of representation, has become a work that touches upon the difficulties of representing trauma.
The photographs are an exploration of an already fading memory, and between the fractures of evidential specificity and the abstracted trace, a space is opened for reflection, confronting us with how we see, and how we choose to remember.
"Sometimes, as in Kusters’ Blue Skies, the equation becomes more complex, fraught by a tangle of historical, aesthetic, moral and personal questions. The event that he set out to explore and capture is already a fading memory. The places, even if they can be accurately located, refuse to be contained, and cannot be encompassed by a single point of view. The artist has chosen to witness at the spot the event’s vanishing and most intangible residue in the form of reflected light."
- Martin Barnes, Senior Curator, Photographs, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
One could follow an online account of my progress here: antonkusters.com/blog/?category=the+blue+skies+project
The Blue Skies Project is being produced by Monica Allende and Screen (screenprojects.org).
Important preliminary research for The Blue Skies Project was supported by STROOM Limburg (Belgium).