Roman Vishniac's haunting late-1930s photographs of Jewish communities, threatened and eventually destroyed by the Nazification of Central and Eastern Europe, are some of the most well-known and celebrated images from the 20th century.
However the Roman Vishniac Rediscovered exhibition offers the first opportunity for a much fuller look at the entire arc of his photographic work. Drawn from the entire Vishniac archive, rather than only the familiar canon, the exhibition shows that the photographer went back repeatedly to many sites in Europe, both before and after the war, and photographed as well in the United States. Vishniac made a photographic record of not only of loss and devastation but also of the consequent challenges of a new Jewish diaspora and the successes of resettlement. His patrons and audiences were multiple, from international social agencies to American publics, and interest did not end with the end of the war.
In this talk, Laura Wexler will propose some new insights into the formations of Jewish modernity that we can gain by analyzing the fuller scope of what Vishniac saw—and tried to show—in his long life in photography.
Tickets are $15. $5 for ICP Members and ICP students. Purchase tickets online.
Laura Wexler is Professor of American Studies; Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and founder and Director of the Photographic Memory Workshop at Yale. She has been Chair of the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program and Co-chair of the Yale Women Faculty Forum. She is a recent recipient of a Henry R. Luce Foundation grant for the study of Women, Religion, and Globalization and an NEH Digital Humanities grant for the Photogrammar Project to create a interactive geospatial digital map of the 170,000 photographs made for the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information between 1937–1942. Laura Wexler's scholarship centers upon intersections of race, gender, sexuality and class with visual culture, especially photography. Her book Tender Violence: Domestic Visions in an Age of U.S. Imperialism won the Joan Kelley Memorial Prize of the American Historical Association for the best book in women's history and/or feminist theory. She is also co-author of Pregnant Pictures, and co-editor of several volumes including Interpretation and the Holocaust and The Puritan Imagination in Nineteenth Century America. Her most recent publication, "'A More Perfect Likeness': Frederick Douglass and the Image of the Nation," appeared in Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity, edited by Maurice O. Wallace and Shawn Michelle Smith. Currently she is working on publications about Diane Arbus and about Roman Vishniac.