Through the Lens of Faith is an outdoor installation designed in association with the Amud Aish Memorial Museum that is installed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, Poland. The temporary installation is composed of 21 color portraits taken by Caryl Englander of Jewish, Polish Catholic and Sinti survivors of the camp. The photographs were taken over a course of three years. Caryl Englander selected her subjects from survivor networks associated with the Amud Aish Memorial Museum in Brooklyn. Englander captures her subjects intimately, in their homes, many look directly into the lens—often with their sleeve rolled up to reveal the infamous serial number that was tattooed on prisoners at Auschwitz and the sub-camps—and smiling into the camera.
Three-meter-tall, vertical steel panels line up on both sides of a path that veers off the route that leads to the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum. The repetitive pattern of the panels is reminiscent of the stripes from a prisoner’s uniform, suggesting internment, while the exterior mirrored surfaces reflect the surrounding landscape and evoke a physical and spiritual freedom.
As visitors enter the installation, they encounter the portraits; each one is framed in a recessed vertical panel, and overlaid with black glass etched with the words of the subject’s first-person experiential account of Auschwitz and the perseverance of their faith. Below each didactic is data on the families that was created by survivors after the Holocaust. Each captures the longing for family renewal amongst this population after the genocide. The installation is replete with visual and personal self-narrations, filling in the blank spaces of the visitor experience of Auschwitz.
The installation marks the 75th Anniversary of the liberation in 1945 and will be on view from July 1, 2019 through October 31, 2020.