Paulo Nozolino, Penumbra, Zurich/Berlin/New York 1996.


P.N.: You are definitely right about that. I started my book on the Arab world, Penumbra [3], while I was living in France. Jean-Marie Le Pen was talking about the «dirty Arabs» all the time. It bothered me, so politically I was already motivated, even though I didn’t want to produce political work, because it grows old very fast and in a way it’s demagogical. Christian Boltanski is political without being too political. So is Gordon Matta-Clark, it’s the same struggle. I was photographing Poland when I went to Auschwitz. That day remains etched in my memory forever! From then on I would never be the same. I came back to Paris and I had one more trip to do to Yemen. There I walked into a café by the desert on a very hot day. At the table in front of me sat my double. We both had the same expression in our faces. We were both victims, brothers in suffering. That moment I knew my journey was over. It was time to start working on Europe, and for me the key to Europe is Auschwitz.

T.H. Please tell me more about why you call Auschwitz the «key to Europe». This is a statement widely discussed in history and philosophy, but I wonder to which tradition you would relate it here. 

P.N.: No tradition whatsoever!
The readings of Primo Levi, Mark Bloch, Giorgio Agamben and W.G. Sebald just confirmed my feelings.

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