THE POSTHUMOUS LANDSCAPE: Jewish Historical Sites in Western Ukraine
EXHIBITION HAS ENDED. May 2 to August 27, 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.
More than seventy years after the Holocaust, western Ukraine is still replete with remnants of Jewish communal life, but the history of that community 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, western Ukraine’s much-reduced Jewish population of a few thousand faces an overwhelming task as it struggles to preserve community sites and historical artifacts, even with significant 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. Jewish heritage sites have enjoyed legal protection in Ukraine since the mid-nineties, but because of the history of destruction during both World War Two and the Soviet era, followed by two decades of neglect, many sites are in precarious condition. However, in recent years, local civic and cultural authorities have shown a new interest in Jewish heritage and are taking significant steps to promote awareness of the value of Jewish material culture and to encourage its preservation.
Part of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival.