The Blue Skies Project
The Blue Skies Project is a mixed media installation of one thousand and seventy-eight original peel-apart instant film images of blue skies, accompanied by a 13-year real time tracking audio piece by Ruben Samama.
The images were made from 2012 to 2017 during a five year journey to the last known location of every former Nazi Germany concentration camp.
1078 official concentration camps existed throughout Europe during the Nazi rule in Germany from 1933 to 1945.
As of 2019, a reproduction of the central piece One Thousand and Seventy-eight Blue Skies (2019) is installed at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
photography: 2012-2017 / artwork: 2019
Photographic paper (peel-apart instant film) mounted on aluminium sandwich panel, wood
Seven vertical panels (each 1325x1995x28mm) containing a total of 1078 instant film images (each 86x108mm)
The installation attempts to create an immersive experience, inviting visitors to view, listen and contemplate. It will be accompanied by works across several platforms: a limited edition hand made artist book, a documentary feature, an augmented reality app, and an educational outreach programme.
The Blue Skies Project is curated and produced by Monica Allende.
V&A Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
ICP International Center for Photography, New York City, US
Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945, published by Indiana University Press & United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – USHMM.org
Der Ort des Terrors. Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager, Wolfgang Benz/Barbara Distel, published by C.H.Beck (9 volumes)
Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz, Sechste Verordnung zur Durchführung des Bundesentschädigungsgesetzes (6. DV-BEG); Anlage zu § 1 Verzeichnis der Konzentrationslager und ihrer Außenkommandos gemäß § 42 Abs. 2 B
Ulrich Baer, Spectral Evidence - the photography of Trauma, The MIT Press (2012)
Otto Dov Kulka, Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death, Allen Lane (2013)
Eva Hoffman, After Such Knowledge, Vintage (2005)
Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, Penguin (2003)
Mark Godfrey, Abstraction and the Holocaust, Yale University Press (2007)
Quote / essay
"Sometimes, as in Kusters’ Blue Skies, the equation becomes more complex, fraught by a tangle of historical, aesthetic, moral and personal questions. The event that he set out to explore and capture is already a fading memory. The places, even if they can be accurately located, refuse to be contained, and cannot be encompassed by a single point of view. The artist has chosen to witness at the spot the event’s vanishing and most intangible residue in the form of reflected light."
- Martin Barnes, Senior Curator, Photographs, Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Read the full essay on 1000 Words Magazine.
First journey: March 6, 2012
Final journey: September 13, 2017
Total visited locations: 1078 of 1078
Total distance driven: approx 177.828km
- One Thousand and Seventy-eight Blue Skies (2019): Pièce unique
- 1078 1/1 individual polaroid images of blue skies