Reflection / Auschwitz II, 2010 (excerpt)
Running time: 5:33 minutes / HD / colour

Auschwitz, May 2010, Light, reflected on the water in Auschwitz II, Birkeneau, sector Bla.

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

Just as I was setting out to leave the barrack of the women’s latrines, I bent down to reach for the leg of my tripod, which got stuck. I discovered a light patch quivering in the water, deep in the bowels of the sewer. I entitled that series Reflections/Auschwitz. I had no idea at the time that Auschwitz/Birkenau would be flooded and that I would not be able to return during that trip.

When you film nature, you do not have control of what is going to happen – things are constantly transforming and changing. The images that I filmed that day in the latrines are a result of the heavy rain and floods that occurred. Had I visited the place another day, what I would have found would have been be totally different.

“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.” […] Reflection depicts what appears to be a window of light on the surface of a murky puddle, the dark liquid in continuous motion, stirring with the hint of a breeze.”

Scott McLeod, Press Release, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto, 2014.

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