Ravensbruck Portraits

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This little book of portraits. Face after face after face. I created about five or six of these 40+ page portrait books during my seven days in Ravensbrück. Some of them were made on site, inside remaining buildings holding a strong and terrible imprint of history. Some were made in my little flat across the Schwedtsee, as the sun dipped down over the camp and the spirits of the prisoners climbed high toward the midnight stars.

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It now seems naive that I believed my creativity would be prolific while my body and mind were present behind those walls with the women I came to witness. Instead of the type of creative outpouring I am capable of .... my everything was locked in a dark world that words will never describe. And all I could do was draw faces.

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Over and over I drew face after face after face, like a ritual of remembering, or perhaps not-forgetting. Quick sketches, every one different. Some of the roughly hewn portraits are with hair, some without. Some with starvation seeping undeniably through the folds of their paper lips. Some of them with despair, or bewilderment, or shock captured in a pulpy iris. Some of them with hope pouring forth from an undrawn chest, a hope that could see beyond the barbed wire fence, the fists, the dogs, and the thick brutal chimney on the southern edge of the camp next to the gently lapping shores of the Schwedtsee.

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By all accounts it was hope that kept so many of the women alive, even altruistic, day after unfathomable day. Even in a concentration camp, hope was contagious. Many prisoners constantly operated on high volumes of courage, with small acts of kindness paid forward daily. The determined women saved many lives in spite of high risk of torture or death as a consequence for their selflessness. These women were really something.

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I'll take these portraits, and these women I have grown to love, further into process now, and bring them into new life while documenting the journey on film. And, from my own hope eternal, I'll endeavor to honor their stories with an expression worthy of their courage. Their sorrow. And their hope.