Terezín (or Theresienstadt) is to the north of Prague, in the Czech Republic. It is a fortress which in 1942 was declared by the Germans as a “model ghetto” at the Wannsee Conference. It was controlled by a Jewish council, and it housed a grea tnumber of teachers, artists and writers. There are evens signed that there was intense cultural activity. As one of the prisoners wrote, “Life could seem almostnormal here”. But the truth is that Terezín was just one of several concentration camps en route to Auschwitz or Birkenau.
In 2007, Daniel Blaufuks travelled to Terezín, his curiosity sparked by a photograph found almost at the end of the book Austerlitz by the German author W. G. Sebald. It is the picture of a room with shelf-lined walls, with two tables,several chairs and a clock, showing six o’clock. Blaufuks found this room, which since then has been used for other purposes and no longer has the clock.Subconsciously, Blaufuks took a similar photograph to the one in Sebald’s book,which marked the start of his project Terezín: a work about the possibility (the need) to make a mental and critical revisiting of a place and a story, in a format including photographs, videos and a book.
As such, this project is a return to two of the main themes of Daniel Blaufuks’artistic career: the call to explore issues which are evocative of his family history(the exile of his grandparents to Portugal from Nazi Germany) and the attraction for the narrative and reflective insights of writers such as W. G. Sebald, Paul Bowles or Georges Perec. It could therefore be said that Blaufuks positions himself in a perceptive position where history and (his) imagination become inextricably linked; a position of intra-remissiveness between fact and fiction, as if they were two connected dimensions of the same experience and truth. So, revisiting the past is not driven only by the need to remember, or by therecognition of meaning; it is also, or most importantly, about strengthening the awakening our subconscious memory and what is meant by imaginary projection – in other words, a perceptive position where retrospect and prospect overlap, in a creative and unpredictable way.The four images shown here, which are just a small part of a larger, more diverse work, show empty places, on a journey, as psychological as it is archaeological, around places and events. Despite having been taken recently, they have an extremely ambiguous sense of time – there is nothing in the pictures which seems to link them to a particular moment in time. We could therefore say that these pictures offer a prolonged effect. Instead of being linked to a specific period of time, they settle in a much wider time, more to an entire era, perhaps over a certain “traumatic span” which marked the 20th century. In their theme, in the absence of any signs of author actions or any other human presence (except formarks on the floor in some of the pictures), these photographs present a moment in time which cannot be measured or dated. It is as if the were permanently being refreshed, in a constant process of historical updating and speculation. However, it must be recognised that this interpretation is an integral part of the photographyprecariousness of the photographic image (limited, yet nonetheless strongly suggestive), all that is left is the possibility of giving ourselves over to the stimuliand derivatives resulting from the images, as the only way to overcome a huge distance: the distance which connects photography as a certain feeling of loss;like a vacuum which opens up over time, waiting for a past which does not stop “coming back.”
These photographs by Daniel Blaufuks refer to the time of places and their events, but also the time which emerges and adheres to transforming them and making them grow. It is true that this phenomenon ca noccur in other forms of art, indeed the effect is more intense in the case of an image so intricately linked to the (paradoxical) perception of time and to thepossibility of reactivating that which we are building up in our subconscious – a labyrinth of images, memories and narratives.
(catalogue of Photoespaña, 2010)