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Talk: Gerty you're special - but how many of you were out there?

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The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide

29 Russell Square

London

WC1B 5DP

United Kingdom

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Gerty, you're special - but how many of you were out there? Historical views of Jewish women photographers

Part of the Berlin-London: The Lost Photographs of Gerty Simon Event Series

An important, but almost completely overlooked, aspect of modern Jewish history is the quantity and quality of Jewish women who worked in the photographic trades from the mid-nineteenth century up through the 1950s. The Tsar has his photograph taken (Der Zar lässt sich photographieren). The popular comic opera of Kurt Weill and Georg Kaiser of the late-1920s up to the Nazi takeover of power in 1933, featured two women photographers audiences were likely to identify as Jews. More recently, George Szirtes’ moving memoir, The Photographer at Sixteen, reveals how important photography was to Jews, and Jewish women, in prewar East Central Europe. Paul Auster's blockbuster novel, 4 3 2 1, features a studio and press photographer as mother of the protagonist, Archie Ferguson (he of the unlikely Jewish name.) In 2013, an extensive exhibition at Vienna's Jewish museum showed that the majority of Vienna's major studios, before the Nazis, were owned and run by Jewish women. The illustrated talk offers a glimpse into this little-known world.

About the speaker:

Michael Berkowitz is Professor of Modern Jewish History at UCL and a leading expert on the history of Jews and photography. He is author of five monographs including Jews and Photography in Britain (University of Texas Press, 2015) The Crime of My Very Existence: Nazism and the Myth of Jewish Criminality (University of California Press, 2007. He is currently preparing three books, including Jews, photography, modernity. His current projects include the development of a musical based on his photography research, and an exhibition to accompany the Kaunas, European Capital of Culture festivities beginning in 2022.

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The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide

29 Russell Square

London

WC1B 5DP

United Kingdom

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