Agnieszka and Maciek Nabrdalik – The Irreversible

09.11 - 05.12.2013
  • Jerzy Ulatowski, KL Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor

    Jerzy Ulatowski, KL Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor

  • Danuta Bogdaniuk, KL Auschwitz - Birkenau and KL Ravensbruck survivor

    Danuta Bogdaniuk, KL Auschwitz - Birkenau and KL Ravensbruck survivor

The Irreversible was born from a need to talk with the victims of events so traumatic that trying to understand them – even with countless documents and biographies available – seems an impossible task. When we visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum, nothing touched us more than the obituariest hat told of former prisoners’ recent deaths. We understood that the most important witnesses to these atrocities live among us, but not for long, and that we are the last generation able to meet them.

For four years we have been travelling around the world engaging with the survivors of the death camps. Today, for the most part, they prefer to enjoy what is left of life instead of dwelling on what happened to them. And yet it is difficult to escape something that lies so deep and returns uninvited in dreams, fears, and associa- tions. This, they say, is irreversible.

The survivors featured in The Irreversible often say that in the camp one could forget one’s name, but not the number, which pro- vided a new subhuman identity stripped of all spirituality.
The style of these portraits challenges the impersonal tone of the Nazi statistics. The striking namelessness of the victims, the numbers recurring in historical reports, and the ongoing debates about how many people really died take away all individuality from the prisoners. This project aims to restore their faces and show a little piece of what they salvaged in spite of the cruelty and the humiliation.

We felt it was vital to hear the thought of the survivors in to day’s context. Our meetings formed the heart of The Irreversible – thanks to them we found out the truth about thehuman condi- tion, and the strength of its spirit.

Agnieszka NabrdalIk, she graduated in Philosophy and Sociology from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. She’s been working as a journalist for daily and weekly press, readily contributing reportage from Poland and other countries of the Eastern Bloc.

The Irreversible turned out to be her vocation. “It is a subject that absorbed me completely. As long as it continues, it is difficult to say what will happen next. For me, it could go on forever. Unfor- tunately, its participants are passing away and now our main task is not to come too late.”

Maciek NabrdalIk is an award-winning photographer, member of the prestigious VII Photo agency.

His main concentration is on sociological changes in Eastern Europe. His photographs were published by L’Espresso, Stern, Smithsonian Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal among others and exhibited in US, Mexico, France, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Greece and Poland.

In 2012 he was awarded with Young Poland grant from Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.