Maxim Sarychau
I Can Almost Hear Birds

(2017–2019)
PRAFOTA 2020 Art Photography Short-list
The project is a visual research of Maly Trostenets, the biggest-ever concentration camp built and run by Nazi Germany on occupied Soviet land. The village of Maly Trostenets (also spelt Maly Trascianiec) is located near Minsk, Belarus. From 60,000 — 65,000 to 200,000 Jews from Austria, Germany and Czechia were killed at Maly Trostenets in the years 1942 — 1944. The project investigates the invisible and secretive character of the Nazi special operation known as Sonderaktion 1005aimed at concealing the evidence of the committed massacre. Moreover, one cannot deny the geopolitical invisibility of the tragedy — the memory of Maly Trostenets has not been a much-discussed issue up to this very day, which was true for the USSR (since most of the victims were European Jews) and has also been true for Europe (owing to the geographical remoteness and political self-isolation of the Soviet State, historically, and of Belarus, presently). In a symbolic manner, I hamper the Nazis' attempt to conceal their crimes by using photograms. Thus, the sun rays effect helps me highlight the personal belongings of the dead and fragments of human skeletons extracted from mass graves. The landscape of the camp and of the memorial site show how forgotten and invisible the tragedy is today. With a similar intention — to investigate what had happened, to discern the invisible in the landscape — the experts of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission arrived here in 1944, a few days after the Germans left the place. The results of their work I used — archival photographs, original signatures — were obtained at the Great Patriotic War Museum (Belarus) as well as at the Latvian National Museum (Latvia). The work on the project was conducted in Belarus, Austria and Germany in 2017 — 2019 with the support of and in cooperation with the Academy of Science of Belarus (Belarus), DÖW (Austria), Latvian National Museum (Latvia), the Great Patriotic War Museum (Belarus), Historical Workshop (Belarus), Reporters in The Field (Robert Bosch Foundation, Germany).
Short-list 2020: