In Memoriam. To Kaunas and Vilnius Jewish Ghetto Survivors
Whites Space Gallery at Paris Photo. 10-13 November 2016. Prismes sector, Grand Palais, Paris
Antanas Sutkus, a master of art photography, born 1939, learned about the mass killing of Jews by Nazis during WWII from his grandparents. Being a Lithuanian himself, he intuitively felt bitterly opposed to the humiliation of man and the mass destruction of human life in his homeland.
In 1988 he began to photograph the Kaunas Jews who had escaped death in concentration camps. Gradually personal relationships were formed. He had feelings of shame and guilt for what had been going on behind the Vilijampole ghetto gates and the 9th fort – then known as “Enterprise 1.005B” – between 1941 and 1944.
As far back as the time of Lithuania’s Grand Duke Gediminas (1275-1341), who invited traders and artisans to come to Lithuania from various European states, the Jews were promised protection and support. During the following six hundred years the Jews took root in Lithuanian soil through their works and prayers, printing shops and synagogues, libraries and gymnasiums, songs and legends, as well as by that special Lithuanian-Jewish atmosphere common to larger and smaller towns accompanied by the peculiar cacophony of the Orient. That vibrant branch of Lithuania’s history and culture was chopped off as 200,000 men, women, children and old people were shot dead and thrown into pits prepared for them at forest edges, quarries and death camps.
IN MEMORIAM portrait series of those who survived the Holocaust in Lithuania during the IIWW shows the power of the presentation of dramatic reality, the undiminished capacity of the photographer and a kind heart’s attempts at understanding, penitence, purification and rebirth.
White Space Gallery will present over 30 vintage photographic portraits of Kaunas and Vilnius Jewish Ghetto surviors taken by Antanas Sutkus in 1988 – 1997 in Lithuania. This is one of his last significant photographic series dedicated to the Lithuanian people. The photographs will be accompanied by sound installation of classical cello musician Vytautas Sondetskis.
In Memoriam exhibition catalogue has been published with essays and interviews with last Holocaust survivors.
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