“RETURNS. Hasidic Returns to Not-To-Be Forgotten Places”
Photobook by Agnieszka Traczewska
“Returns” is a collection of artistically outstanding photographs, a record of their author's passion and long-standing work, and finally an image of a world that managed to survive, although it was meant to disappear from the surface of the earth forever.
We usually see Hassids from Bobowa, Lelów, Góra Kalwaria, Rymanów or Leżajsk on pho-tographic plates from a century ago. However, Agnieszka Traczewska is a contemporary photographer documenting the descendants of Jews who once lived in these areas come to visit the remains of Jewish heritage: cemeteries, the graves of Tzadikim, and synagogues. Her photographs show the meeting of two worlds: one marked by dilapidated stone graves, and the other – that of living people whose appearance resembles their ancestors, giving the impression that time has shifted back.
The author presents the journeys made by Hassids from all over the world to visit the graves of Tzadikim on the anniversaries of their death (“jorzeit”). They believe that on this special day the Tzadik's soul descends to Earth, and their intercession with God may grant them a blessing. Photographs taken by Traczewska, who – contrary to custom – had been allowed into a world usually inaccessible to strangers, have a historical value but above all they are an intimate portrait of people experiencing the mystery of faith.
Since 2006 she has been creating a series of photographs devoted to Hassids travelling to Poland to visit the graves of Tzadikim, as well as portraying the world of Orthodox Jewish communities living in Israel and the United States. In 2014, she received the National Geo-graphic Traveler Photo Award for her work “First Time”.
She produced a series of television shows including “Rozmowy na koniec wieku”, “Rozmowy na nowy wiek”, documentaries such as “Generation '89”, “An Ordinary March”, “Dziennik.pl”, “A Night with the General”, biographical films about Czesław Miłosz, Leszek Kołakowski, Paweł Jasienica, Jerzy Turowicz, Adam Michnik, Ryszard Krynicki as well as documentary films dedicated to Jewish themes: “Vera Gran”, “Gdanski Railway Station”, “There once was a war”, “Bruno Schulz”.
Individual photographic exhibitions:
- „Bracha-Blessing. About Hassidim returning to not-to-be-forgotten places”, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York, 2009;
- “Children of Eretz Israel”, District Museum in Tarnów, 2012;
- “Chassidim by Agnieszka Traczewska”, Festival International de la Photographie So-ciale, Paris-Sarcelle, 2012;
- “Children of Eretz Israel”, White Stork Synagogue, Simcha Festival, Wrocław 2013;
- “Children of Eretz Israel”, High Synagogue, Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, 2013;
- “Children of Eretz Israel”, Museum of Masovian Jews in Płock, 2015;
- “Children of Eretz Israel”, Włodawa Synagogue, Festival of Three Cultures, 2016;
- “Children of Eretz Israel”, Dialogue Center in Łódź, 2017;
- “Children of Eretz Israel”, “Zblizenia” Festival, Gdańsk, 2017;
- “Hasidic Returns to Not-To-Be Forgotten Places”, Neve Shalomm Synagogue, Istan-bul, 2017.
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at promoting culture in Poland.