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The Visual Semantics of Diaspora: Jason Francisco

January 17, 2007 - April 1, 2007

Far from Zion: Jews, Diaspora, Memory

The Visual Semantics of Diaspora, three exhibitions in conjunction with the Diaspora Project and Conference presented by the Berman Center for Jewish Studies.

Black and white photographs contemplating Jewish life in Europe and North America, and addressing the contradictory history of Ashkenazic Jewry in the last century. Francisco’s work concerns critical approaches to documentary photography, and includes projects on urban communities, globalization, and contemporary American public spaces. He teaches photography and visual studies at Rutgers University and Stanford University.

Part document and part visual poem, Far from Zion: Jews, Diaspora, Memory is the response of a young American Jew to the historical experience of Ashkenazic Jewry in the last century.  In the spirit of contemplative but unsentimental reckoning, the photographs consider the fragmentation and historical contingency of Jewish experience, the discontinuity and fragility of Jewish identity, and the uncertain meaning of diaspora as a Jewish inheritance.  The result is a sequence of pictures that moves between marked and unmarked historical locations in Europe and the United States, portraits of contemporary Jews, and the events of Jewish life.  An original essay, “Diasporic Investigations,” elaborates the photographs concerns.

The photographs here contemplate Jewish life in Europe and North America—from Kiev to California, Birkenau to Brooklyn—in an effort to address the insistent and contradictory history of Ashkenazic Jewry in the last century.  This history has rendered Jewish life variously strong in Jewishness, marooned in Jewishness, deprived but not purged of Jewishness, torn from but subsisting in Jewishness, Jewishly spent, Jewishly dirigible—and largely without communal formations that would authorize or legitimate this range.  My effort here is neither to recuperate nor to mitigate this predicament.  Rather it is to put positions in the Jewish lifeworld into searching relations, and so to limn the ties that bind communities to individuals, and to the imagination of a collective life.  My intuition is that a fair vision of Jewish life in diaspora—its scatteredness, compositeness, adaptiveness, lack—lies in the relay of meaning between its parts.”

Jason Francisco

For more information on the Diaspora Project and Conference schedule through the Berman Center for Jewish Studies, click here.

GALLERY TALK: Jason Francisco: “Visual Semantics of Diaspora”: Spring 2007


January 17, 2007
April 1, 2007
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LUAG MAIN GALLERY, Zoellner Arts Center
420 E. Packer Ave.
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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