Sudeesh Yezhuvath’s photography exhibit shines a light on uncomfortable frames of history

Sudeesh Yezhuvath’s exhibit tears up a gruesome past that has enormous relevance even today – the Auschwitz concentration camp, where thousands of Jews were stripped of their lives

KOCHI: Sudeesh Yezhuvath tears apart a chapter from a universal past and presents its chilling reminders before us through his photography exhibition titled Yours is not to reason why. The exhibit begins with frames of the picturesque manicured lawns outside the Auschwitz Museum in Poland. Two ponds where the ashes of dead concentration camp inmates are still kept there as a stark reminder, and these are slowly revealing the barbaric pages of history.

“I once asked myself, what would I do if I lived in Nazi Germany. Would I believe the propaganda and become a Nazi? Would I be against fascist ideology but afraid to speak out, which basically means joining them? Or should I stand up and fight? I didn’t know where I was going to end up. And it was a scary feeling,” Sudeesh says. It was 2013 and he was standing in the attic where Anne Frank was hiding from the Nazis at the time.

In 2018 he visited the Auschwitz Museum. It was a concentration camp where Jews were locked up before being gassed to death. “The Germans are efficient. When they planned a genocide, they did it effectively. Railway tracks were built to the prison. They collected all the prisoners’ personal belongings and stored them for future use,” says the artist, who is an IT entrepreneur by profession. All these collected objects are still kept in the museum.

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As you progress through the frames you come to the one with a bunch of old prosthetic legs. These custom legs were stored by the Nazis for future use. Leather suitcases, teacups, shoes, shoe brushes, eyeglass frames – the remnants of many Jews who lived busy lives before falling into the abyss of Nazi hatred are still intact.

“Many countries are now joining the right, supporting religious and racist ideologies, undermining minorities and vulnerable groups. I just wanted everyone to see these images and prevent history from repeating itself. This is not a political commentary. The exhibition is intended for everyone to look inside themselves. In a way, it’s asking everyone where they are at,” he says. The answer, he says, cannot be easy.

Tracey L. Sweeney