Senator Barkley at Buchenwald
More than just protection against the cold, Barkley’s layers of civilian clothing suggest to me democratic authority and something of civitas, in contrast to the ultimate degradation of the camp. He seems numb. His face, even at a distance, shows sadness and incredulity. The photograph of mannequin fingers suggests numbness, an eternal object consonant with feelings of numbness produced by Barkley’s expression and a presumed response to the stack of corpses. A creature-like painted arm holds a tarpaulin, as if shielding bones, bodies and the emerging photograph of a Texas town square. This photo is a device to include feelings of the contemporaneous and disengagement, in contrast to the immediate fact of the Nazi horror. To me, it also serves as a reminder of the tribalisms, ignorances and prejudices of a world that looked away. Again, via the extensive continuum, such associations arising out of my concrescence count as objective experience in my understanding of the death camp scene.
In the photographs of Barkley and the Texas town square, there are correspondences between the isolated figure of Barkley and the solitary statue in the square. Their clothing and spatial settings support liminal feelings of authority and civitas. There is the bronze military officer and Barkley’s layered clothing, which, in black and white, appears homogenous. My positive feelings for Barkley are influenced by my knowledge of his authority as a public representative, and the humanity of his facial expression. I include the town square primarily for its American prewar setting, and the people sitting or standing as single figures and in small groups, which allow for interpretations of insularity and disengagement. These allusions allow my feelings about American isolationism to contrast with feelings about the Nazi camp experience.
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