The purposes of the project are manifold. It aims to document firsthand the stories of the ever-shrinking number of survivors of the Holocaust, or Shoah. By exploring the entire lives of these survivors, from before World War II to the present day, it tells stories of perseverance and of life in America from the postwar period to the 21st century.
“The whole idea is really to think about putting a personal face on the Holocaust, because people have become so indifferent,” Kassan says. “It’s an abstract idea, because people no longer come into contact with survivors.” The project is also an opportunity for the artist to better appreciate an aspect of his own family’s history. In 1917, when he was about 5 years old, Kassan’s grandfather escaped ethnic cleansing on the border of Ukraine and Romania.