Shadows of Shoah – a unique Holocaust exhibition

May 12, 2014 by Henry Benjamin
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Perry Trotter is a New Zealander, an evangelical Christian, a highly talented photographer, a skilled musician and a composer….and a man who conceived a state of the art travelling Holocaust exhibition.


Ambassador Yosef Livne visits Shashows of Shoah    Photo: Henry Benjamin

Israeli Ambassador Yosef Livne visits Shadows of Shoah                        Photo: Henry Benjamin


Working in conjunction with his wife Sheree, the Auckland-based mastermind of Shadows of Shoah has created a demountable exhibition which features images of Holocaust survivors dramatically photographed in black and white by Trotter himself.

The exhibition tells the stories of survivors. It creates an eerie sensation and may well be unique in the world as it does not show any scenes from Nazi Europe. No camps, no fences, no emaciated victims, no Nazis.

Perry and Sheree Trotter Pic: Henry Benjamin

Perry and Sheree Trotter Pic: Henry Benjamin

There are no movies,…just ever-changing images of the survivors whom Trotter personally interviews. But do not expect to hear their voices. Creating a highly dramatic effect, Trotter’s concept uses the sound of a solitary piano played by Trotter and featuring music which he composed.

The words of the survivors are flashed on the screen compelling the viewer to read them personally intensifying the effect of the survivor’s stories.

Trotter told J-Wire: “The exhibition takes us two days to set up but only half a day to dismantle. It is our dream that it will be replicated many times with organisations being set up in countries across  the globe.” Asked how the concept was born, Trotter told J-Wire: In 2008 I went to Israel with Sheree and three of our children. We stayed in a kibbutz which was home to around 30 Holocaust survivors. As a photographer I thought I would really like the opportunity to photograph survivors. I am very interested in the issue of anti-Semitism. I am very interested in the role of the Jewish people throughout history. I call myself an evangelical Christian but there are many with that tag whose feelings are questionable with regard to the Jewish people so I sometimes call myself a Biblical Zionist. I photographed the survivors and Sheree interviewed them. I brought the material back to New Zealand with absolutely no idea as to what I was going to do with it. This is a blending of the Holocaust and the arts. I reduced the hour long interviews to a few lines of powerful text flowing over the portraiture. Then I starting writing the music for it. The exhibition takes about 21 minutes to view.”

J-Wire travelled to Auckland to view the exhibition in situ on the Sacred Heart College in Glendowie, Auckland.

Survivor Ruth Filler with Ambassador Yosef Livne

Survivor Ruth Filler with Ambassador Yosef Livne

School principal Jim Dale said: “The effect the exhibition has on the students is overwhelming. They approach it as if it some kind of game offering them time off studies and enter the exhibition in a light-hearted manner. When they emerge at the end, it is a different story. The impact Shadows has on them is clearly visible.”

To date, there have been eight showings of Shadows of Shoah. The exhibition has moved from Auckland to the city of Napier from where it will return to Auckland before travelling to Waikato Museum in Hamilton.

Trotter told J-Wire: “More than 3000 students and others mainly from two schools visited the exhibition at the Sacred Heart College. Now the dream is to replicate it as many times as possible. At any one time the exhibition shows the stories of seven survivors.

We have interviewed and photographed more than 35 survivors. The survivors were living in Israel, Sydney, Melbourne, and NZ.  Two are USA based professors who were visiting NZ at the time of their interviews.
We complete the editing, processing and publication of these stories only as we have the time and resources to do so. About 20 are now at broadcast or exhibition standard. “

Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand Yosef Livne attended a special showing of the exhibition at Sacred Heart. He told J-Wire: “This is the second time I have seen Shadows. I saw it in Wellington but this event has a special touch to it. It takes place in a Catholic school and reaches out to people outside of the Jewish community and that is extremely important. The fact that you have to read the testimonies gives each and every one of us the opportunity to digest it in our own particular way. If I has seen this exhibition say five years ago, I am sure I would have reacted in a different way than I do now having visited the camps. I don’t need to hear the voices. I hear them in my mind.  You imagine the voices. They talk about a father being shot. They talk about going to the left or right and there was no time to say goodbye. The words are so powerful you don’t need the voices.”

J-Wire presents a sample of the exhibition….

Shadows of Shoah 04 from Perry Trotter on Vimeo.


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