THE POSTHUMOUS LANDSCAPE: Jewish Historical Sites in Western Ukraine
May 2 to August 31, 2017, at the Reuben & Helene Dennis Museum, Beth Tzedec Congregation, 1700 Bathurst Street, Toronto. Open to the public during synagogue hours, Sunday to Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday until 3 p.m. Open Friday evening and Saturday to synagogue attendees.
RECEPTION: Sunday, May 7, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Seventy-two years after the Holocaust, western Ukraine is still replete with remnants of Jewish communal life, but the community’s history has all but vanished from popular consciousness. In June 2016, for three weeks I explored the cities of Lviv and Chernivtsi and their surroundings, drawn to the area by its abundant Jewish material culture. Lviv, part of Poland before the war, and Chernivtsi, part of Romania, had significant and large Jewish populations, as did the nearby towns. Today, a surviving Jewish population of a few thousand struggles to preserve community sites and historical artifacts, with help from abroad.
Like my earlier exhibition in 2013 that explored the Polish landscape, this collection of photographs depicts the physical remnants of Jewish life in western Ukraine: synagogues, cemeteries, memorials, public spaces and architecture, some functioning, some repurposed and some in ruins. The Ukrainian state, beset by serious problems, remains largely indifferent to Jewish heritage, and reluctant to confront its own complicity in the destruction of Jewish communities. Consequently, Jewish material culture remains in a precarious condition, much of it on the verge of disappearance.
Part of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival.