“It Was Wonderful, Like A Good Movie!”
Descendants of Light: American Photographers of Jewish Ancestry is a work of art that investigates the skill of the photographic witness. It is the culmination of face-to-face encounters with many of the most original photographers of our time. For over eight years photographer and author Penny Wolin traveled relentlessly across America, photographing and interviewing more than 70 of the leading and most original Jewish photographers in history. This book is the culmination of these unprecedented face-to-face encounters.
Arnold Newman told me a story of how young Ryszard survived the Auschwitz death camp. It was toward the end of the war and the Nazis had cranked up the killing machines. The order was given to round up the children at the camp and send them to the gas chambers. In an act of momentary benevolence, Amon Goeth personally tipped off Ryszard’s uncles (the musicians portrayed in Schindler’s List) that the soldiers were coming for the children. His uncles hid him in the barracks of the Jewish police. From the window, Ryszard watched as child upon child was crammed into a truck, and its precious cargo taken away. – PW
As a 6-year-old child, I ended up alone in Auschwitz. In January 1945, we were liberated by the Red Army. They had a film crew with them. Later, my mother happened to see a newsreel of the liberation and saw me in it. She demanded that the projectionist give her some frames of the film. With this, she knew that I was alive and found me through an orphanage in Kraków. I happen to be lucky … many times in my life.
No one knew my father’s whereabouts. Someone claimed that they saw him being shot. But a few months later my parents bumped into each other on the street! Again we were together. It was wonderful, like in a good movie. – Ryszard Horowitz
Since the beginnings of photography, practitioners used various visual and chemical techniques to produce fantasy images that were not normally seen in one image by the naked eye. Photographs of fabricated family ghosts created an excellent livelihood for photographers of the late 19th century, at a time when séances with the dead were quite popular.
Many of Ryszard’s photographs were made decades before the invention of digital technology. He describes his work as photo-compositions, created with multiple camera or darkroom exposures onto film. The results are brilliantly conceived and seamlessly executed complex visual stories. Though his methods have changed, Ryszard the Wizard still conjures up the spirits whenever he so chooses. – PW
Descendants of Light: American Photographers of Jewish Ancestry By Penny Wolin
Hardcover, 10×14 inches, 244 pages, 235 duo-tone,and color photographic illustrations with text.
Glossary, bibliography, index; made in USA.
Released in 2015
Jewish Community Library, San Francisco, March 20, 1:00pm
Book Passage, Corte Madera, March 26, 1:00pm
Art Center College, Pasadena, March 29, 1:00pm
Vroman’s Books – Pasadena, CA – April 2, 3:00pm
The Image Flow – Mill Valley, CA – April 20, 7:00pm
92nd St Y, Manhattan, May 3, 7:00pm (In conversation with Jill Freedman and Ed Kashi)
Syracuse University, May 11, 7:00pm (S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications)
George Eastman Museum – Rochester, New York – May 12, 7:00pm