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Wooden Barracks in Quarantine Camp: BirkenauEnlarge image

Wooden Barracks in Quarantine Camp: Birkenau, 1994, printed 1995

Jack Burman
Canadian, 1949
chromogenic print (Kodak Duraflex)
76.1 x 99.2 cm; image: 31.1 x 89.1 cm
Purchased 1997
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (no. EX-97-57)

Jack Burman’s photographs were first produced for his installation “Remain Silent”: Auschwitz/Birkenau (1996). The title derives from a command written on the walls of the latrine barracks at Birkenau: “Verhalte dich ruhig” (do not speak/remain silent). Silence very much informs the work. The artist writes that the camps are now busy with museum staff, visitors, tourists and the clamour of schoolchildren. Yet Auschwitz and Birkenau were sites of mass murder: 1.4 million men, women and children perished at Birkenau, making it, as the artist states, “the most prolific killing ground in human history.” Visiting the site in the winter of 1994, Burman saw few people. He took his photographs at this time, saying that “The images are often ‘empty.’ That is how I could see the women and children and men best.”

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