With his own Jewish heritage in tow, local Sydney photographer Richard Wiesel was granted access to the closed archives of the memorials Sachsenhausen and Ravensbruck to photograph artifacts that have never been seen. Embarking on the emotional journey, Richard sifted through hundreds of objects either left behind or donated by those who had been imprisoned in the camps during the Holocaust between 1941 and 1945. After thorough research and contextualisation, Richard was able to trace each item back to its original owners. This November, Richard’s photographic exhibition It’s Personal: Images of objects from Ravensbruck and Sachsenhausen will open at the Sydney Jewish Museum in Darlinghurst.
“It was a bit tough but it was a journey that I chose to go on. And it was a subject matter which I’ve been interested and fascinated in,” said Richard, going on to say, “…the work was really about honouring those people and giving them a voice. And at the same time, it was completely fascinating, almost like a car crash. You don’t want to look but you look.”
Richard also spoke about the emotion and sentiment involved in creating an exhibition like this one, saying “It was crazy pulling this stuff out and holding this stuff in the camp. It was a bit of a mind-twist too because I was thinking, here I am a Jewish person 75 years later, photographing stuff that’s from my tribe who have been executed. It was really kind of weird, the mental process.”
Richard’s main desire though is to tell the stories and give a voice to the victims of the camps.
“This is a testimony to those people who can’t talk, and I hope through the simplicity of the images and the way I’ve isolated the image from the background, that it will spark a conversation.”
“Everyone’s experience of this exhibition will be completely different. I’m hoping the strength and the simplicity of these images will allow whoever is looking at it to engage with them on some kind of emotional level,” shared Richard. “We just want the audience to exist with the image and to really touch it and to immerse themselves in it and to think about who that person was.”
From Nov 25. Sydney Jewish Museum, 148 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst. $9-$40+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneyjewishmuseum.com.au
By Madison Behringer