Judy Glickman Lauder married Leonard Lauder, the cosmetics magnate, in 2015. But that is not why I am writing this post.
Glickman Lauder is a photographer, who, via her father, learnt the craft and met such luminaries as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.
I noted her photographs in a recent post, on ‘experimentation’, as I am thinking how best to develop my ‘digital negatives’ from the Work in Progress. But on reading the book in more detail, her work is well worthy of a separate post and further study. In her artist statement, Glickman lauder notes:
‘My most intense and life-changing photographic experience has been the years I spent delving into the actual sites of the Holocaust period of history. Witnessing the enormous evidence of man’s capacity for evil was earthshaking. I felt at one with the suffering and the loss. I also felt the need to record these experiences photographically and to share my feelings with others. We live in a dangerous world, and our ability to destroy has only grown manyfold since World War II. We cannot allow hatred and injustice, power and greed to gain a foothold—anywhere or towards anyone’.
After a 30 year odyssey (and one might say obsession), Glickman Lauder has published Beyond the Shadows. It is the story of the ‘Danish exception’ to the holocaust. Briefly, Denmark accepted Nazi rule at the beginning of WWII, and had got agreements that the roughly 8000 Danish Jews would not be harmed.
That changed in 1943, as the Danish Resistance became increasingly active, and after the Wannsee Conference (1942) on the ‘Final Solution’. The Christian Danes, in various ways, managed to protect the Jews. In fact 99% of them survived. Contrast that with over 90% of Polish Jews being murdered.
Again, my post is not about that extraordinary history. It is about Glickman Lauder’s photographs.
The book, just published, combines a record of the Holocaust accompanied with individual stories from those that aided the Jews, and Jews that survived. In the opening pages, Elie Weiesel notes:
‘Shadows, enormous and evanescent. Shadows that suffer. Shadows of mortals. Shadows of nocturnal memories’. (pg 7)
It records the sites of Treblinka, Auschwitz and others, as well as ghettos and graveyards.
And it features many fine portraits.
What marks this out as a highly unusual work is that Glickman Lauder uses black and white, negatives and infrared images. And she mixes them, freely.
‘In the darkroom, if the negative itself expressed more of what I was seeing and feeling, we created a print in which the light and darks were reversed’. (pg 149)
And, on the railroad tracks at the camps:
‘I felt that infrared film gave my images a feeling of timelessness’. (pg 149)
Warsaw to Treblinka
I find it an extraordinary series of images.
The passion and attention to detail is clear on every page. The interviews are meticulously recorded, and the guest writers explain the history and context thoroughly.
And I am intrigued as to how Glickman Lauder took her creative decisions.
Why should that be a negative? How is infrared better than visible light?
And when is a ‘straight’ image required?
Jewish Cemetery, Warsaw.
The book just works.
The eye moves without hesitation from one image to the next. And is gently encourage to pause, look, and consider.
There is time imbued both in every image, and in the sequence that unfolds.
There is gravity. And there is memory.
Wannsee Conference Site
In the foreword, Michael Berenbaum writes that
‘… her use of black and white, her transformation of black into white and white into black, forces us to see the familiar in a brand new way, to reexamine what we know and confront what we do not know, what we cannot know’. (pg 9)
The work gives me both encouragement to continue exploring these various aesthetic strategies, and inspiration that the combination of history and modern-day story telling is possible.
Glickman Lauder, Judy. 2018. Beyond the Shadows: The Holocaust and the Danish Exception. New York: Aperture.
Glickman Lauder, Judy. Available at http://judyglickmanlauder.com/holocaust/. (Accessed 2/12/2018).