Pond / Auschwitz II, 2010 (excerpt)
Running time: 1:33 minutes / HD / colour

Auschwitz, May 2010. Rain falling on pond in Auschwitz II, Birkenau.

It is in this pond that ashes were dumped of many tens of thousands of people, mostly Jews, who were gassed at Crematorium IV.

Camera: Sylvia Safdie
Editing: Patrick Andrew Boivin, Sylvia Safdie
Audio: Silent

While the camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau was closed to visitors, on our last day of our visit we sneaked into the section of the camp known as the Birkenau Ash Pond. In this pond were dumped the ashes of many tens of thousands of people, who were gassed at the Crematorium IV. I started to film the reflections of the trees in the pond when all of the sudden it started to rain. As the rain built up the images of the reflections of the trees started to transform and within seconds, were totally erased to reveal raindrops ferociously hitting the surface of the water. This footage became Pond/Auschwitz.

“Shot during the artist’s first visit to the site of the eponymous concentration camp, the works focus on natural phenomena found in the camp’s surroundings. As a result of uncharacteristically heavy rainfalls at that time, much of the site was flooded. This seeming liability ultimately inspired the artist to work with the water, utilizing its surface, raindrops and reflections to speak of the “absent present.”

Erick Lewis, in his book The Video Work of Sylvia Safdie, McGill-Queen University Press, 2013, writes about the Auschwitz series pg.70 – pg. 114.

This video was shown in the exhibition The Absent Present, Prefix, Toronto, in 2014.