Photographic portrait of the Holocaust
New York — ''Indelible Images,'' an excellent exhibition at the Jewish Museum, is devoted to photographs reflecting on the meaning of the Holocaust. It consists of photographs by Sally Soames of Auschwitz as it is today, and of photographic pictures by Mark Berghash of Holocaust survivors.
Sally Soames is a staff photographer for a London newspaper. She went to Auschwitz on her own volition in the fall of 1979 and virtually made it her home for a few days and nights. Her intention was to record the mood and the appearance of this former concentration camp in the light of what had happened there almost 40 years ago.
That she succeeded to an extraordinary extent is proved by her extremely simple and stark black-and-white photographs. Her images, in which no human beings or other living things appear, consist entirely of buildings, interiors, structural details, artifacts, and a few outdoor shots of such things as barbed-wire fences and sections of railroad track. They add up, however, to a truly remarkable ''portrait'' of that grim and haunted place.
The photographs of Mark Berghash, on the other hand, portray the faces of those who attended the World Gathering of Holocaust Survivors in 1981. Each of them is represented by 8 to 16 portraits taken as he or she responded to questions about their experiences during the Holocaust. The resulting photographs are mounted in sequence and are meant to be viewed as a whole.
Here again the effect is profoundly moving - both as a series of studies of individual reactions and as a gallery of faces of people who have endured and survived. There is a simplicity and a directness about these photographs that communicate great human truths without the claptrap and the posturing one sees so often in more conventional portraiture.
At the Jewish Museum through Aug. 29.