images of work in progress

the project

I am presently in the process of organizing and documenting a photography project consisting of several thousand staged miniature compositions taken over a period of some eight years.

The compositions are based on real events taken place during World War II in the Eastern Territories.

The seeds of the project came about after viewing a collection of photographs taken by a "retired" Germany army officer and amateur photographer living in Panama in the 50's.

The photographs were mounted into two albums labeled, "Our Adventures In The East" and "Postcards From The Front."

The photographs in the first album were those of officers and soldiers posing for the camera celebrating some event or victory, yet in spite of their smartness and forced smiles there was something clearly disturbing.

The second album labeled "Action Shots" was even more disturbing. It showed the same individuals with drawn weapons (not unusual since it was wartime) posing, smiling, yet their expressions spoke of something sinister and terrible happening. Perhaps most frightening were the many empty spaces still with their four white corners in place, where the original photographs were previously displayed.

All dates, places and writing were scratched out. In spite of the grossness of some rather explicit shots the anecdotes accompanying the pictures continued to be of a humorous nature.

When we queried our host as to what happened to the rest of the pictures, we were simply told that some of the wartime exploits and conquests were no longer "in fashion" and best "forgotten."

As to the expressions of the protagonists, we were told that unless you were there you would never understand.

Our host spoke of countless atrocities committed by partisan bandits and communist sympathizers claiming that the war fought in the east was a "preventive war."

Over the years I have given much thought about these albums, the notations, the misplaced "humor" and above all my own reaction to these rather "ordinary" photographs. Every time I watch television, read the papers and watch people in high places looking smart, smiling at us telling us stories we like to hear, I can't help but think of the two albums labeled, "Postcards From The Front."

As an expressionist artist I am simply attempting to reproduce the pictures I saw including those that were missing. When I first embarked on this project I had no clear idea as to where it would lead me. Had I known that the endeavor would take eight years of my life to produce I certainly would not have gotten into it!

Presently I am in the process of organizing my works into 26 stories with captions, anecdotes and short narratives. I am hoping to have my works published in the form of two photo albums reminiscent of the postcards from the front.

Any comments, suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

- Stefan Krikl.