"To Bathe in Obscenity" by Hunter Madsen

"To Bathe in Obscenity"


A museum placard outside this lavatory detailed an incident here, in which an inmate had been dragged in by guards late at night, to be kicked and beaten to death. Other prisoners in bunks not far off were able to hear his anguished pleas for someone to come help him. The plaque said, nobody came. 

Entering the room, I found its contours so stark, the bowls so plain, that my camera struggled to extrude beauty from these elements with help from the window's grey light. When I got back to my studio, I experimented with further brightening a subsection of the image to bring out the textured wall and floor.  This not only added an abstracting elegance, but also alerted the viewer that such beauty as could be established in this scene was crudely stapled in by the artist and strictly on the surface.  
In the end, none of these emendations could defeat the gloom that enveloped this silent place.  What came foremost from my pursuit was not art, but rather an artist's sense of shame at having attempted to exploit our vicarious fascination for ancient darkness.

TITLE - "To Bathe in Obscenity"
WHERE - Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Museum, Oranienburg, Germany (2015)