Two exhibitions “Roman Vishniac Rediscovered” and “We Went Back: Photographs from Europe 1933–1956 by Chim” are presented at the International Center of Photography. The pictures made by two photographers who worked during the period of the 1920s-1950s impress the audience with the extreme honesty and realism.
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Observing the works by Roman Vishniac, a person can feel as prying about the moments of the Jewish people’s life. Focusing on the photographs by Chim (David Seymour), it is possible to feel as the part of the European society between the 1930s and 1950s.
The exhibition “Roman Vishniac Rediscovered” represents the imprinted moments of the Jewish people’s life in the Eastern Europe. The photographs seem to be the caught moments of the everyday life and routine. The photographer is distancing himself from those people depicted in the pictures.
As a result, the feeling of prying about the audience is created. The composition of many pictures is complex because several elements work to attract the audience’s attention. Many photographs represent children whose face expressions and reactions to realities are rather exemplary and frank (“Roman Vishniac Rediscovered”). The black-and-white photographs create the effect of minimalism, but they also help accentuate definite important details balancing the light and shadow in the picture.
In his works, Vishniac combines the aspects of the Jewish people’s life in communities and ghettos with the depiction of Nazi elements. Thus, the portrayals of Jewish schoolchildren are presented next to the pictures with swastika and Nazi Storm Troopers to accentuate the contrast (“Roman Vishniac Rediscovered”).
As a result, the photographs depicting the moments of the ordinary life of people during the period between the two World Wars, which can be discussed as documentary ones, are perceived as the real pieces of art. The whole life in its deepness is illustrated by Roman Vishniac with the help of the caught face expressions and body movements in their combination with presenting complex surroundings.
David Seymour worked as a photographer using pseudonym Chim. The photographer is unique in his ability to provide effective portraits as well as photographs demonstrating a lot of people or even crowds of people.
The works by Chim should be discussed and interpreted with references to the large political and social context. The crowds of people at the square, people listening to the speeches of political leaders or people participating in the land reform meetings are depicted in a lot of pictures by Chim (“We Went Back: Photographs from Europe 1933–1956 by Chim”).
From this point, Chim focused in his works on presenting the history of societies. All the black-and-white or color photographs demonstrated at the exhibition “We Went Back: Photographs from Europe 1933–1956 by Chim” are different in their tone, style, and theme. However, these photographs are astounding in relation to their illustrativeness and earnest to reflect the atmosphere of the situations and moments depicted.
The exhibitions “Roman Vishniac Rediscovered” and “We Went Back: Photographs from Europe 1933–1956 by Chim” allow feeling the unique unstable atmosphere of the 1930s-1950s. In spite of the fact Roman Vishniac and David Seymour focused on different themes and objects to depict, these photographers used similar approaches to creating the realistic photographs which can represent the mood and atmosphere of the moment with references to the historical, cultural, and social context.
Roman Vishniac Rediscovered. 2013. Web.
We Went Back: Photographs from Europe 1933–1956 by Chim. 2013. Web.