35mm B&W microfilm collage, microfiche reader, 350 x 400 x 350mm
“Looking squarely ahead, brave and joyous, at the world. The squads march to work. All that matters to us now is Treblinka. It is our destiny.” Song by Kurt Franz, Treblinka commandant, August-November 1943
Viewers browse through a layered, compressed representation of trench TREB04, excavated in 2013 on the site of the gas chamber at Treblinka, Poland. Magnified microfilm fragments depict archaeological trench finds that locate place and corroborate Holocaust eyewitness testimony. Viewers perform the evidence, as durational observers who optically uncompress the material over time. They navigate the brief time and space of the camp’s mechanised, chaotic extermination and demolition, enacting gestures inherent to decoding the indexical illusions of both photography and forensis. Data and images from the excavation combine with microfilm’s archival potential as carrier of textual evidence for future translation.
Produced for the touring exhibition Finding Treblinka: Artists Respond, commissioned by Centre for Archaeology, Staffordshire University, and funded by Rothschild Foundation. Data courtesy of forensic archaeologist Caroline Sturdy-Colls.