On January 7th 2016 at 6 p.m. in the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw will be held an opening of the exhibition „Lost world. Polish Jews. Fotographs from 1918–1939” combined with the release of the photography album by Leszek Dulik and Konrad Zieliński, published by the JHI and Boni Libri Publishing.
Professor Paweł Śpiewak, director of the Jewish Historical Institute says about the photographs shown at the exhibition and in the album: Everything is interesting in them. Not only because it is so different, but because your attention is being drawn by individual faces, looks, a bit slanted hat or a face in wiry glasses.
I am looking at the photos randomly. They make never-ending book to which I want to back again and again. These photographs bring joy, emotion, provoke curiosity. They stop the past, which at times is joyful, tired, poor, dramatic or smiley. We need to look at it just for itself, like the family album, like the fairytale of the past.
From among many thousand photographs we chose couple of hundred — say authors of the album being an „extension” of the exhibition, Leszek Dulik and Konrad Zieliński. — They were taken by acclaimed, the most accomplished photographer, and by those whose names we could not identify.
Photographs show big cities and small towns, in which Jews often were the majority. We also show assimilated Jews, raised in Polish school, strongly bonded with Polish history, culture and language. On the photos they appear in the company of their gentile friends, acquaintances, co-workers. While living in Poland and working for it, being aware of the bond with their own nation and its fate, they often lived on the border of two worlds.
We do not avoid difficult and painful subjects, we draft episodic picture of the world of Polish Jews. The Lost World. The world of which tapestry and diversity we are showing through bits that are preserved on old photographs. We believe in their power. We believe they will take us on the journey in time and will draw near lives of their protagonists.
Some of them are average people, some wealthy, prominent or poor. We can look them in the eyes, peep into their apartments, watch them at work and see how they experience their joys and concerns. This picture was captured shortly before the tragedy: its protagonist don’t know yet that they themselves and the world in which they live will soon be destroyed.
The photography exhibition will be complemented by the exposition titled „Mezuzah from this home”, showing twelve casts of old mezuzah contemporarily done in bronze. That way new mezuzah were made, ready to be used. Helena Czernek and Aleksander Prugar from Mi Polin, authors of the project, say that „mezuzah traces are witnesses for the Jewish inhabitants in Poland, an emptyness and symbol of these, who passed away. On the other hand they are the foundation on which new mezuzah are being crafted. Behind each cast mezuzah is a slot for inserting a klaf. When you affix the mezuzah to your doorframe, you fill the emptiness and give it a second life. Touching the mezuzah activates a link between past and present. Sitting untouched for many years, these mezuzot can now fulfill their holy function again.
Both exhibitions can be visited until the end of February 2016.
The photography album „Lost world. Polish Jews. Fotographs from 1918–1939” will also be available in English, French, German and Russian.
Media partners of the Album are: