Renowned photographer to exhibit Auschwitz photography

The photography exhibition “Auschwitz KZ I-II” will open Monday, Feb. 20, in Spiva Art Gallery at Missouri Southern.

The series of photographs by internationally renowned photographer Örjan Henriksson offer a meditative study of light, texture and composition at the concentration camp. The photographs offer an important message of humanity and the horrors that saturated the spaces he photographed after many hours walking throughout the camp. 

“My father told me when I was young that he wanted me to learn about the time period before World War II to see if the signs ever came up again,” says Henriksson. “Later, I saw a BBC documentary on another concentration camp, and it was so beautifully photographed.

“I thought maybe my approach could be to make beautiful black and white prints that people would be attracted to. There are no swastikas or signs … just my impressions. (My pictures) speak with a soft voice … more of a whisper. People need to get close for the context.”

“Auschwitz KZ I-II” was awarded the Micael Bindefeld Foundation Prize, which was handed out by a member of the Swedish Royal Family, Prince Daniel. The music featured as a part of the show was composed by Pär Gunnarsson, who wrote a piece to be played on the cello, “the instrument closest to the human voice.” The exhibition opened at Liljevalchs Konsthall in Stockholm and then toured several museums and art galleries in Sweden.

“During the opening in Stockholm, there were many tears,” says Henriksson. “One of the most famous actresses in Sweden was in tears. You need to stop and listen to the whispering. You can’t just pass through.”

Henriksson has lectured and taught photography at Mullsjö Folkhögskola, University of Jönköping and at Missouri Southern. His works include both fine art and commercial photography.

An Artist Talk is set for 2 to 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, in Room 106 of Webster Hall, with a reception to follow from 3-5 p.m. in the Spiva gallery. The exhibit will run through Friday, March 17. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.