Friday, March 13, 2009
Yesterday we welcomed a crew from National Geographic working on a program about the Einsatzgruppen, the mobile killing squads responsible for the massacre of Jews in their own communities in the Soviet Union. The filmmakers were here a couple of weeks ago to interview our esteemed director David Marwell and to get b-roll footage in the galleries of the The Shooting of Jews in Ukraine: Holocaust By Bullets, on view through March 23. But yesterday was all about the bullets: filmed in close-up, panorama, and against a green screen…
Erica, our registrar, spent the day, and I mean the entire day, positioning bullets on this small turntable that moved on a miniature dolly. The camera man, more about him in a minute, had the production assistants control the movements remotely. Some bullets were standing up. Others were stacked in a heap. We learned from Peter, the producer, that the particularly shredded casings were a result of the bullets melting in the machine gun barrel. According to Peter, the only way the barrel would be that hot is if it were in constant use. Rather than stop and replace the barrels when they got too hot, the killers just kept on reloading.
There were hundreds of bullets, probably thousands between what was in the prep room and on display in the exhibition. Each one is a powerful metaphor for the quick and methodical destructive work of the mobile killing force. And each one represents a life taken from us.
Erica and I were e-mailing this morning about the day spent creating aesthetic displays of bullets. To us, they were a stack of bullets. But with the help of good lighting and Gordy, the expert camera man, something evil and grotesque was transformed into something beautiful and then transformed back. We agreed we felt uncomfortable interacting with the objects in that way. Especially Erica, who, as the registrar, was the only person in the room designated to touch them. Jennifer helped with the gun, but that’s a story for another day.
Posted by Jamie at 7:08 AM