Tag Archives: Gallery Walls

World War II Through Soviet Jewish Eyes

In 2003, a young American historian named David Shneer was conducting research in Moscow when he heard about an exhibition of photographs called Women at War. At the time, displaying photography on gallery walls was still a fairly novel concept for Russia, and the exhibit was not meant to be a blockbuster. To get inside, Shneer found that he had to ring a doorbell at a nondescript building, at which point a raspy voice came over the intercom and demanded: “Who are you? What do you want?” But the images inside astounded him.

Not only had they been taken with incredible skillarranging light and form in a way that would put to shame many of today’s war photographersbut they were from the Soviet battlefields of World War II, which made the surnames of their authors seem all the more strange. About four out of five of them, Shneer noticed, were Jewish surnames. “How is it possible,” he thought, “that a bunch of Jews, who are supposed to be oppressed by the Soviet Union, are the ones charged with photographing the war?”

As delicately as he could, Shneer put the question to one of the curators, who in typical Moscow style had a glass of wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other. “She looked at me like I’m an idiot and said, ‘Yes, the photographers were all Jewish.’” It turned out she was the granddaughter of one of them, Arkady Shaykhet, and their conversation that day is what led to the exhibit that opened on Nov. 16 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. Links backlinks blog comments . It has the same title as the book Shneer wrote from his researchThrough Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War and the Holocaust.

The show explores the way World War II was covered in the pages of Soviet newspapers such as Pravda, casting light on a side of the Holocaust that often gets short shrift in western history books. The genocide against the Jews, usually associated with images of Nazi death camps and gas chambers, was also perpetrated through mass shootings across Eastern Europe. Later termed the “Holocaust by Bullets,” it took more Jewish lives than the concentration camps, says Shneer, and it was documented most poignantly by the Jewish photographers of the Soviet press.

Although none of them are still alive to tell their story, Shneer spent the better part of a decade tracking down their relatives in Moscow and collecting nearly 200 works from their family archives. The prints were often no bigger than a pack of cigarettes, taken with beat-up cameras and two roles of film allotted for each battle. There are more faceless soldiers in these frames than intimate portraits of victims, and the most common theme is emptiness, at once bleak and monumental. But given their historical context, what seems most striking is the duality that runs through the lives and works of these photographers. On the one hand, these are works of Soviet propaganda, glorifying the Red Army in the tradition of socialist realism. “They needed photos of nurses doing good work on the home front, patriotic soldiers conquering territory,” says Shneer. “And their Jewishness rarely appears in that kind of material.”

But it does appear when they go off assignment to explore the Jewish ghettos in places like Ukraine and Hungary. There they found survivors living among the ruins of Europe, the yellow Stars of David on their overcoats still marking them for death. In the Budapest ghetto, the photographer Evgenii Khaldei found the corpses of his fellow Jews strewn about the floor of a gutted shop, a scrap of butcher paper covering the face of a man whose body lies in the doorway. Images like this did not appear in the mainstream Soviet press, but they were published in Eynikayt, or Unity, the Yiddish-language newspaper of the USSR. “We have this image in our heads that Jewishness was completely suppressed in the Soviet Union,” says Shneer. “But that’s really apost-war image of the country.”

Antisemitism only became part of Soviet dogma in 1948, the year that Israel was founded and Josef Stalin began his campaign against the”cosmopolitans” a Soviet byword for Jews. Many of the best Jewish photographers lost their staff positions at Pravda and other major publications that year, and phrases like “too many Jews on staff” began appearing in the official correspondence between the editors and their government censors. Some of the photographers continued working as freelancers for the propaganda press, but even after their experiences on the front, they rarely embraced their heritage. “None of these guys were buried in the Jewish cemetery,” says Shneer. “None ever tried to leave for Israel. None learned Hebrew.”

Soviet patriotism and its predilections came first, in their lives and in the work they produced. Even long after the fall of communism, when Shneer was conducting his research, the last surviving photographer from this group refused to meet with him. “He was still living in the Soviet world where meeting with a foreigner was scary.” In their style and execution, the images they captured are rooted in that world. They document the greatest triumph of the Soviet Union. But regardless of whether they are viewed on the pages of Pravda or a gallery wall, that world does not bind their relevance as monuments and works of art.


Simon Shuster is TIMEs Moscow reporter.

ThroughSoviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War and the Holocaust will be on view at the Museum of Jewish Heritage from Nov. 16 2012 to April 7, 2013.

The Bechers on Display at Paris Photo

The work of the photographic duo Bernd and Hilla Becher is indisputably some of the most important in modern photography. This week, a two-part exhibit at Paris Photo highlights the historical significance of the Bechers, most well known for their “typologies”—uniform, photographic studies of industrial structures such as water towers and blast furnaces.

The first part of the show, Bernd and Hilla Becher—Printed materials 1964-2012, features an extensive collection of rare ephemera related to the Bechers’ work. These objects, including posters, invitations and museum catalogues, were amassed by curator and book dealer Antoine de Beaupré for more than ten years.

“You get an historical overview,” said Beaupré. “and also an evolution of how their work developed over the years, especially in the beginning.”

One highlight of the collection is the magazine Anonyme Skulpturen which was printed in 1969 to accompany an exhibition of the Bechers’ work in Düsseldorf. This work would become a monograph of the same name, published in 1970, which is also featured in the Paris show.

The printed objects collected by Beupré represent the Bechers’ work from 1964 to 1977, while a presentation of their monographs, mounted under plexiglass and affixed to the gallery walls, span from 1970 to the present day.

The second section of the Paris show features a selection of 117 photographs chosen by Hilla Becher (Bernd Becher passed away in 2007) from the 1977 book Zeche Zollern II – Photographs of Bernd & Hilla Becher. Together, these prints, objects and publications are a comprehensive tribute to the Bechers’ long and prolific photographic career.


Antoine de Beaupré is a curator and the founder of the Librairie 213 in Paris.

Bernd and Hilla Becher—Printed materials 1964-2012 is on display at Paris Photo from Nov. 15 to 18.

Susan Barnett

A number of years ago, I met Susan Barnett when she sat down at my table at Center’s Review L.A.  I was reviewing portfolios and knew that I was looking at a body of work that “had legs”.  Well, those legs have grown arms, a torso, and a head full of possibilities.  I am so thrilled to share the news that Not In Your Face has reached gallery walls with Susan’s first solo exhibition at the DeSantos Gallery in Houston.  The show opens on Saturday, June 16th, with an opening that begins at 5:30pm.  Susan also recently announced that the Library of Congress has purchased three prints from this project. And there is a lot more good news on the horizon.
This is a project that I often show in my classes because it is complex in it’s simplicity.  She shows us what we are communicating at this point in history, via the great leveler, the T-Shirt. Susan finds themes of self expression, explores the idea of personal advertisement, and ultimately, makes us look at our humanity with a sense of humor and a sense of reality.
This might be Susan’s first solo gallery exhibition but by no means has she been laying low.  Her work has been exhibited and published all over the world, and in 2013, she will have another solo exhibition at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Ft. Collins, Colorado. She lives in New York City and comes to photography after a career as a gallery director.

 In the series “Not In Your Face” the
t-shirt is starkly evident but these photographs are not about 
the t-shirt per se. They are about
identity, validation and perception. I look for individuals 
who stand out in a crowd by
their choice of the message on their back and  for those people willing to pose for me. The messages are combinations
of pictures and words that are appropriated from contemporary culture but have
the unique effect of mixing up meanings and creating new meanings.


On the streets these personalities create
their own iconography that explore the cultural, political and social issues
that have an impact on our everyday lives. The t-shirt “performs a function of
identifying an indvidual’s social location instantly”.  In the early months of 2012, the LA
Times ran a front page article describing the emergence of the t-shirt and
hoodie as a staple of the protest movement worn in support of Trayvon Martin, a
young man gunned down in Florida that became a cause célèbre throughout the
nation.

The Trayvon Martin protest T-shirt has become a
staple at rallies across the country, and it’s 
difficult to think of another item of clothing more
representative of the nation’s twitchy 
zeitgeist in April 2012. Sometimes it seems as
though the old-fashioned medium of the cotton t-shirt has done as much as the
Internet to spread the memes associated with the tragedy through the 
country — and the world.

In these photographs we witness a chronicle
of American subcultures and vernaculars which illustrate the current American identity.
These photographs demonstrate how these individuals wear a kind of “badge of
honor or trophy” that says “I belong to this group not the other”. T-shirts
speak to like-minded people; a particular t-shirt may be meaningful to those
with different views and affiliations.

Each one of these people reveal a part of
themselves that advertises their hopes, ideals, likes, dislikes, political views, and personal
mantras. “The t-shirt speaks to issues related to ideology, differences, and myth: politics, race,
gender and leisure”.



I believe the power of each portraitʼs
meaning becomes apparent from the juxtaposition of many images. It is a universe of individuals
but when seen in groups they 
create a picture of our time without the imposition of judgment. Is this
democracy at work? We may feel we know more about these individuals than we
really do. What is their story? Here their individual mystery is preserved and the power of
photography can celebrate our urge to unravel it.

Dedicated to my late Mother, Mary, whose faith in me made all this possible.”Dedicated to my late Mother, Mary, whose faith in me made all this possible.”

Kevin Van Aelst

Kevin Van Aelst brings to the photography world a curiosity, a sense of humor, and a new way of looking a everyday objects. I can imagine him as a little boy, in bed a night looking around his room, his imagination allowing him to create new worlds within the familiar. You may recognize his work from his weekly illustrations for The Medium in the New York Times Magazine from 2007 – 2011, or from the pages of such publications as Scientific American, Men’s Health, Money Magazine, Wired, and Time. To see his work on gallery walls, Kevin will open an exhibition at the Panopticon Gallery in Boston on January 12th running through February 28th.

Apple Globe, 2007

He currently lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut, but grew up in Elmira, New York and central Pennsylvania. He recieved a B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University and an M.F.A. from the University of Hartford. Kevin is currently is teaching at Quinnipiac University and ACES/Educational Center for the Arts High School Program. He is a recipient of a 2008 fellowship grant from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.

Legos, 2011

My artwork is an attempt to reconcile my physical surroundings with the fears, fascinations, curiosities, and daydreams occupying my mind. The photographs and constructions consist of common artifacts, materials, and scenes from everyday life, which have been rearranged and reassembled into various forms, patterns, and illustrations. The images aim to examine the distance between where my mind wanters to and the material objects that inspire those fixations. Equally important to this work are the ‘big picture’ and the ‘little things’–the mundane and relatable artifacts of our daily lives, and the more mysterious notions of life and existence. This work is about creating order where we expect to find randomness, and also hints that the minutiae all around us is capable of communicating much larger ideas.

Elsewhere, 2009

Tragedies, 2009

Ursa Major, 2010

The Ocean, 2010

The Moon, 2010

In Search of Perfect States, 2010

Blue Tape, 2009

If Wishes were Fishes, 2009

Digestive System, 2009

Common Clouds, 2007

Cemetery, 2010

The Heart, 2009

Dress Code, 2011

Daido Moriyama at Aperture Nov 4-5

Aperture is thrilled to announce PRINTING SHOW – TKY, an exclusive event and exhibition featuring influential Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama! Organized by Ivan Vartanian of Goliga.

PRINTING SHOW is a recreation of Daido Moriyama’s 1974 performance of the same name. Following the format of the original performance as closely as possible, in lieu of prints mounted on the gallery walls, visitors to the gallery will find the photographer stationed at a photocopy machine duplicating his photographic prints. As was done forty years ago, these photocopied sheets will be assembled and staple-bound with a silk-screened cover printed in the gallery space during the performance.

In 1974, the ad hoc photobook that resulted from this process, Another Country—New York, featured images from a trip Moriyama had made to New York in 1971. The photobook, which was produced as ephemera for the performance, has since become a rare collector’s item. In the 2011 recreation, the work featured will include a selection of images made in Tokyo over the last fifteen years.

Visitors to the gallery will be active collaborators in the photobook-making process. In 1974, the photographer sequenced and collated the photocopied sheets, leaving the choice of silkscreen cover to the visitor. In 2011, the visitor will select, edit, and sequence the sheets of the ad hoc photobook, titled TKY. Visitors will choose from a menu of fifty-four double-sided photocopied sheets that will be on view in the gallery space. Visitors will also make a choice of cover. All copies made during the performance interval will be signed by the photographer.

Daido Moriyama has been publishing and exhibiting his photography since the late 1960s, with a bibliography of over 300 monographs to his name. A major retrospective, Daido Moriyama: Stray Dog, originated in 2000 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and subsequently toured internationally to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Japan Society in New York, Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, and numerous other venues. He is a recipient of the Cultural Award of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie. Exhibitions include a major retrospective, On the Road, presented at the Osaka National Museum of Art from June to October 2011, and William Klein/Daido Moriyama at Tate Modern from October 2012 to January 2013.

Click here to purchase tickets to the event Friday Nov 4, Session 2–4 pm

Click here to purchase tickets to the event Friday, Nov 4, Session 6–9 pm

Click here to purchase tickets to the event Saturday, Nov 5, Session 12–3 pm

Click here to purchase tickets to the event Saturday, Nov 5, Session 5–8 pm

Presented by Aperture Foundation and organized by Ivan Vartanian of Goliga, PRINTING SHOW—TKY is made possible, in part, with support from David Solo; The Japan Foundation, New York; Hôtel Americano, New York; and Performa 11.