Press Release, Thu 2 Sep 2021
Starting 3 September 2021, the Jewish Museum Berlin will be presenting Frédéric Brenner’s new photographic essay, ZERHEILT: Healed to Pieces.
“The Jewish Museum Berlin began our acquisition of this work in 2018,” explains Hetty Berg, Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin.
“Thanks to the support of the Friends of the Jewish Museum Berlin, we seized this opportunity to enrich our Photographic Collection with this profound, layered and open-ended exploration of Jewishness in today’s Berlin, which deliberately avoids fixed definitions of identity. The exhibition also serves as part of our thematic year ‘1700 Years of Jewish Life in Germany,’ as the Jewish Museum Berlin aims to showcase the multiplicity of Jewish life and Jewish perspectives.”
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Jewish Museum Berlin Foundation
For more than 40 years, the renowned photographer Frédéric Brenner has turned his camera to the diverse forms of Diaspora Jewish life and their representations. In his new photographic essay, ZERHEILT: HEALED TO PIECES, created between 2016 and 2019, he explores Berlin as a stage of various performances of Jewishness. Portraying landscapes and individuals: newcomers, old-timers, converts, immigrants, and others who have made Berlin their home or were just passing through. In the process, he picks apart prevailing ideas and conceptions in order to explore new perspectives and offers a fresh vantage point on issues and people in and around the Jewish-German story.
As Theresia Ziehe, Curator of Photography at the Jewish Museum Berlin, emphasizes:
“Brenner’s photographic essay is not intended as comprehensive documentation of the status quo of Jewish life in Germany today. Rather, his images offer fragmentary glimpses of life in Berlin that are replete with paradoxes, dissonances, gaps, and opposing narratives between grappling with the past and the desire for redemption. This complex gaze, which links the past and future with the present, invites visitors to keep critically engaging with images afresh.” They depict impressions of placelessness and estrangement that at turns seem familiar, bizarre, or disturbing, and that certainly extend far beyond Jewish history and the history of Berlin.
Frédéric Brenner himself elaborates:
“A portrait is a very intimate thing. The photographer and the photographic subject need to abandon the illusion that this is an encounter between individual people, each with a clearly defined self and an unchanging identity, one of whom is being captured in an image. We need to have the fortitude to discover our inner multiplicity – the many strangers within ourselves – to encounter it and display it, and in so doing allow and accept estrangement instead of clinging to the fictions we developed in order to bridge the unbearable, disonnent, even-changing reality inside and outside, fictions that actually get in the way of true closeness and familiarity. We have to sit with uncertainty and incomprehensibility.”
The photo essay, with an introduction by Frédéric Brenner and text by Elad Lapidot, was released as a book in August 2021 with Hatje Cantz Verlag, edited by Oren Myers, which also serves as the exhibition catalogue. The museum edition costs 45 euros (58 euros in bookstores).
We would like to thank to the Friends of the Jewish Museum Berlin for purchasing the photo series for the JMB’s collection.
|Exhibition dates||3 September 2021 to 13 March 2022|
|Location||Jewish Museum Berlin, grand floor of Libeskind Building, Eric F. Ross Gallery|
|Admission||free with required time slot reservation|
|Opening hours||daily, 10 am to 7 pm|