Hamon Arts Library

Mildred Hawn Gallery

Loli Kantor

There Was a Forest

Jewish Life In Eastern Europe Today

The photographs in this series document the parallel stories of the lives and rituals of the disappearing population of Jews still living in small enclaves in Eastern Europe and the simultaneous, slow reemergence of Jewish life that is gradually transforming some of the larger communities there today.

The Four Questions of Drohobych
The Four Questions of Drohobych
Ukraine, 2008

As I moved in and out of the day-to-day lives of people, bearing witness to daily rituals and celebrations of Jewish holidays, I found that contemporary Judaism in Eastern Europe is a complex hybrid: lingering traditions and memories combining with a culture deeply influenced by the environment of post-war Soviet Ukraine and the relentless march of modernity.

My work therefore not only alludes to my own family’s struggle with devastating loss, but also explores the more general problem of the Holocaust and its continued impact, as well as the influence of the subsequent Soviet regime. I am especially interested in the far-reaching effect of these events on human experience during the past century and the ways in which Jewish life and culture are navigating through this current time of transition.

Szusza\
Szusza's Vitrine Cabinet
Uzhgorod, Ukraine, 2008

While at times the images in this body of work carry somber undertones, the photographs and the stories they tell are also layered with joy and life. In making the vivid, highly saturated color pigment prints, I convey the tangible reality of these places, including the full palette of the region’s hues, offering the viewer a more realistic slice in time.


I print part of the project using the palladium process, making contact prints from 6x9 cm and 6x6 cm original black-and-white negatives, some as single images and some as diptychs and triptychs. I am creating little stories of people and places to mimics stills and motion and a closer look at people beyond a single portrait. The print sizes are similar to snap shots taken in the 1940s, referring back to a timeless look at people and culture.

“It is the artist who cannot forget. They cannot forget the joy
and neither can they forget the pain.
- Isaac Bashevis Singer

A Jewish Way
A Jewish Way
Drohobych, 2007