Maciek and Agnieszka Nabrdalik started this project, The Irreversible, in 2009 after one of their visits to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. At the gate they saw an obituary notice informing about the death of a former prisoner. The next day there was another one. At that moment they realized that we are the last generation who can approach the survivors to talk with them and ask questions.
Of course they knew that most of them had already been interviewed by different organizations or by the Auschwitz Museum employees. Not all of them had a chance to share their story, though, and they were at different moments in their lives now. Many of them admitted that their recollections of all that happened are not as vivid today because the fact that they have survived has softened their memory, and they prefer to enjoy what is left of life. And yet it is difficult to escape something that lies so deep and returns uninvited in dreams, fears and associations. This, they say, is irreversible.
"In creating this book, our goal was to come up with a new structure – one that would be timeless and that would tear down stereotypical assumptions. We are not speaking in our own words, but employing the stories of our subjects. What they are telling us comes from the present. Each story strikes us with its timeliness. We wanted to show how profound the experience of the camp is for those who survived it and how it affects their relationships, perceptions, psyches, viewpoints, and day-to-day functioning. We wanted every person who holds this book to find in it the question that they themselves would perhaps want to ask of a former prisoner.
The design of the book, created by Ania Nałęcka from Tapir Book Design, breathed fresh energy into us. There is little that can provide more motivation than the visualization of the guiding thought, of the soul of the project. And this project lives mainly through photographs.
At the same time, we are aware that this is an incredibly difficult subject. The very notion of a face-to-face encounter brings with it the weight of the documentary genre. The idea that the cover be made of sandpaper, unpleasant to touch and bringing to mind something rough and injurious, seemed appropriate. This is not the book to tuck in amongst others. Just the touch itself might discourage you from further contact. This is why we think that the subject as much as the album itself deserve a special place in the homes and minds of those who reach for it."
- Maciek & Agnieszka Nabrdalik
Photographs: Maciek Nabrdalik
Texts: Agnieszka Nabrdalik
Design: Ania Nalecka / Tapir Book Design
42 black and white photographs
Hardcover bound in sandpaper
Dimensions 8.45 x 9.25 inches (21.5 x 23.5cm)
Printrun: 1000 copies
Publisher: Exit Zero Publishing