Light of the negative / Images from the Ringelblum Archive and the Jerzy Lewczyński Archive: Reinterpreted

The new temporary exhibition will consist of photos from two archives: the Ringelblum Archive and the archives of Jerzy Lewczyński. The exhibition will be open to visitors from April 26 to August 25, 2019.

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”Light of the negative” is an exhibition about method. About how to read the language of photographs from the Warsaw ghetto, collected thanks to the efforts of the Oneg Shabbat group in 1939–1943 and today kept at the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.

The boxes with the first part of the Ringelblum Archive, recovered in 1946, contained a collection of photographs. Seventy six pictures, without explanations or captions. Whoever archived them later, gave them titles through which he or she sought to convey their meanings, recognize persons and places. Seventy years later, we return to these photographs and to the traces of past events. We suggest a new interpretation for them – as images and text.

Shown side by side with the Ringelblum Archive photographs are items belonging to the Eisenbach family archive – images of a Jewish family from the beginning of the twentieth century: glass negatives that Jerzy Lewczyński found in the home of Zdzisław Beksiński in Sanok.

Based on the negatives, Lewczyński created the archaeology of photography method: ”practices aimed at discovering, researching, and commenting on events and facts occurring earlier in the so called photographic past” (Archeology of Photography Manifesto, July 1979).

The exhibition is accompanied by an essay by Prof. Georges Didi-Huberman, a distinguished French art historian and philosopher. His study of the photographs collected by the Oneg Shabbat allows for a new reading of these images in the context of Jerzy Lewczyński’s archeology of photography concept.


Curators | Anna Duńczyk-Szulc, Rafał Lewandowski (author of the concept)

Keynote essay | prof. Georges Didi-Huberman

Organizers | Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute, Oneg Szabat Program, Association of the JHI of Poland

Partner: Fundacja Archeologia Fotografii

Project | Aneta Faner i Piotr Duma (Fish’n’Sheep)

Realization | Tomasz Marzec (KONTRA, Pracownia Plastyczna)

Media patrons | Co Jest Grane24, Radio Kampus, Midrasz, Vogue Polska 

Finansed by | The Ministry of Culture and Heritage

Monday – Friday: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, standard ticket: 12 zł
Sunday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, free admission

The exhibition is an element of the Oneg Szabat Program implemented by the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, within a public-private partnership.

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