Renowned photographer Örjan Henriksson offered a sobering exhibit of photography taken at a concentration camp during an exhibit held Feb. 20-March 17 in Spiva Art Gallery.
The black and white photos featured in “Auschwitz KZ I-II” were a meditative study of light, texture and composition at the camp. Henriksson, who has had a longstanding relationship with Missouri Southern’s Art Department via the Summer in Sweden program, felt it was important to approach the subject in a manner that would speak to those viewing the exhibit in a way that they might not expect.
“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.”
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. He compares his approach to photography – the art of capturing a “magic moment” – to penning a beautiful letter.
“If the handwriting is beautiful but there’s no message, you just enjoy the handwriting,” he says. “If the handwriting is less good but there’s a good story, it’s more interesting. If you can combine nice writing with a nice story … then you have a good photograph.”