Dangerous Places – Ponar, is an immersive video installation made in response to my chance meeting with Itzak Dogin a survivor of Ponar in the summer of 1993. Ponar, is the Yiddish name for the Paneriai Forest just outside Vilnius the capital of Lithuania and the site of the Hitlerite mass murder of up to 100,000 people between 1941 – 1944. Returning to Ponar after 50 years Itzak Dogin retraces his past as he recalls his life in Ponar as part of a work squad of 80 other Jewish prisoners ordered to erase the evidence of mass murder that had taken place there. Itzak recalls his arrival at Ponar, his family, the gruesome work the prisoners were forced to carry out and their planned escape, digging a tunnel in the pit where they slept. Itzak’s return to Ponar opens a space for remembering in the heart of the forest, his testimony, a memory trace.
“Skelton’s project derives an essential part of its force from its reworking of the partial and the transitory such that with the move away from the ephemeral and the all too quickly dissipated reverence of death’s more usual conventions, the presence of loss is given a pain and a poignancy beyond the tradition of pathos”. Andrew Benjamin catalogue essay
A catalogue is available with texts by Andrew Benjamin, Bernard Hoepffner and Pam Skelton.
Ponar has been shown at Ferens Art Gallery Hull, Leeds City Art Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London, NGBK, Berlin, Germany and Gallery 101 Ontario, Canada.
The Exhibition was produced in collaboration with Eddie Berg and Moviola and funded by Arts Council England and the British Council.