From October 2nd until December 30th 2023 19 photographs by Julia Pirotte from the JHI collection will be on view at Centro Sefarad-Israel in Madrid. After "Displaced. Fourteen stories from the Warsaw Ghetto" it is the second exhibition prepared in partnership with our Spanish partners.
The exhibition presents briefly - and inevitably in a nutshell - the photographic portrait work of Julia Pirotte (Giny Diament, 1907-2000). It shows her exceptionally sensitive and careful perception of the people she encounters on a daily basis. Apart from who the portrayed people are and what they represent, two perspectives or contexts are crucial for Pirotte: on the one hand, the context of the reality of the wartime occupation and the Holocaust, and on the other, the photographer's commitment to fighting social injustice, exclusion due to poverty, skin color, race, gender or religion. In times of ubiquitous anti-Semitism and racism, terror and mass murder, she unparalleledly restores dignity to individual human beings with her camera. Especially those that exist, as it were, on the margins of the mainstream of history. Photography is a mirror in which Pirotte sees herself in the faces and gestures of others, sculpting their silhouettes in light and half-tones, extracting with extraordinary sensitivity and understanding the intimate essence of their lives.
The exhibition starts with Julia's close relationship with her sister Maria (Mindla), executed by the Germans in Wrocław in 1944. Both served sentences before the war for belonging to the communist party, both avoided prison in the 1930s by leaving for a foreign countries (Belgium and France) and in the 1940s were active in the Marseille resistance movement. Both of them also never had children, which were one of Julia's favorite themes in photography. The exhibition focuses on the personal dimension of Pirotte's work, on her face-to-face encounters with the photographed people. It leaves a bit aside her reportage or strictly ideological projects commissioned by the public both during and after the war. An exception to this are wonderful portraits of such celebrities of European culture as Édith Piaf and Pablo Picasso, commissioned by the newspapers she worked for.
Michał Krasicki (JHI)
The exhibition is co-organised with the Centro Sefarad-Israel in Madrid and the Polish Institute in Madrid.