New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Traces from Galicia Past
Chris Schwartz
Traces of Memory: A Contemporary Look at the Jewish Past in Poland
R. Wayne Parsons
Chris Schwartz, Rymanów Synagogue

Now showing at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (A living Memorial to the Holocaust) in Battery Park City is an exhibition of photos by the British photographer Chris Schwarz titled “Traces of Memory: A Contemporary Look at the Jewish Past in Poland”. Schwarz, like many others before him, documents, and by implication laments, the horrible destruction of Jewish lives and culture in Eastern Europe by the barbaric Nazi killing machine. Shown are the synagogues, burial sites, concentration camps, and other sites that remain today. I found the images of the synagogues most interesting, both on account of the architectural interest of many of these structures but no less by virtue of what they say about the contemporary status of Jews in what used to be Galicia (now part of Eastern Poland and Western Ukraine.) A direct consequence of the Holocaust is that there are not enough Jews living in the area now to use and maintain these structures. Some synagogues have simply been abandoned and left to decay into piles of rubble. Others have been converted into wholly secular uses; one striking example is a former synagogue that now functions as a furniture store –- though there isn’t even a plaque noting its original purpose. A few synagogues are still used as such, though these are small in number.

The color photographs are masterfully executed with considerable visual interest. There is nothing especially ground-breaking about Schwarz’s approach, though arguably there doesn’t need to be; the subject matter is justification enough. This exhibition is one of many that affirm the necessity of remembering the Holocaust in all possible ways we can.

Chris Schwartz
Traces of Memory: A Contemporary Look at the Jewish Past in Poland


Museum of Jewish Heritage
36 Battery Place
Lower Manhattan - West         Map

646 437 4200
mjhnyc.org

Tuesday, March 16 to
Monday, August 30, 2010
Hours: Sun,Thur, 10 to 4:45; Wed, 10 to 8; Fri, 10 to 5
Share