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Waterfront Festival

Exhibition Reviews: The Eye as Witness and Fragments of Sudan at Djanogly Gallery

10 February 22 words: Emelia Turner

As Lakeside Arts presents two chilling new exhibitions, The Eye as Witness and Fragments of Sudan, our understanding of agency, suffering, and war are refigured through photography and virtual reality…

In Lakeside Arts’ Djanogly Gallery, a fascinating combination of exhibitions are now on display. The Eye as Witness: Recording the Holocaust, an immersive multimedia experience which examines Holocaust photography, is exhibited alongside Fragments of Sudan, which displays a collection of photographs by Greek-born, South Sudan-based photographer Nektarios Markogiannis. Together, the two exhibitions aim to provoke viewers to think critically about the photographs that they observe, and consider the ways in which many photographs may not accurately depict the true nature of the experiences of the victims within them.

The Eye as Witness displays a variation of photographs of Holocaust victims, a visual testimony, and a rare example of a written note from a victim within the Nazi camp system. Interactive recording technology known as the Forever Project is also featured, providing the words of survivors speaking to us today. Alongside this, Virtual Reality technology gives viewers the opportunity to become immersed within a scene which displays a Nazi photographer capturing a photograph of Jewish people within the Warsaw Ghetto. It provides visitors with the opportunity of observing what is left out of the frame of the image. The outcome of this is that visitors can think critically about the way in which popular photographs of Holocaust victims are unreliable, as most of them were taken by official Nazi photographs for the use of propaganda

Markogiannis’ aim is to invite viewers to empathise with the suffering and resilience of those in Sudan who have been forced to flee to United Nations refugee camps

Rarely seen photos secretly taken by Jewish people and members of the anti-Nazi resistance are also exhibited. For the World to Know, by Ivanna Holowaty, showcases the images taken by holocaust victim Joanna Szydlowska in 1944 with a camera that was smuggled into the women’s concentration camp in Ravensbrück.

Serving as a contemporary response to The Eye as Witness, Markogiannis’ Fragments of Sudan showcases documentary photography of those affected by the civil war in Sudan. Refraining from the use of graphic imagery, opting instead to capture horrific moments in a subtle and sensitive way, Markogiannis’ aim is to invite viewers to empathise with the suffering and resilience of those in Sudan who have been forced to flee to United Nations refugee camps. The display offers a tragic yet necessary warning that mass genocide, ethnic cleansing and enforced displacement of people is still present in the world today. The photographs explore a range of events, from children playing football in Bentiu’s Protection of Civilians site, to peaceful demonstrations in Protection of Civilians site ‘PoC1’ after the World Food Programme announced a 30% cut in food rations.

Both exhibitions act as an important reminder that the forces that were so deeply interwoven in the Holocaust are still prevalent across the globe. The photographs taken by the Holocaust victims gave them a certain level of control over the way in which future generations are able to witness their suffering. Similarly, Markogiannis’ photography of civil war victims in Sudan attempts to develop an alternative visual language for capturing the violence and suffering which they have been subjected to. 

The Eye as Witness and Fragments of Sudan are open to the public at Djanogly Gallery until Sunday 13 March 2022

lakesidearts.org.uk

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