The newly published second edition of Rediscovering Traces of Memory: The Jewish Heritage of Polish Galicia is a much-needed revised and expanded companion to the permanent exhibition at the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow — an exhibition that itself has recently undergone revision and expansion.
Like the exhibit, the first edition of the book, published in 2009, as well as a previous catalogue published in 2005, focused exclusively on the stunning photographs of Jewish heritage sites in southeastern Poland taken by the late British photographer Chris Schwarz that — until recently — formed the exhibit. Schwarz, who founded the Galicia Jewish Museum in 2004, passed away in 2007.
The newly revised exhibit, which opened in 2016, as well as the new book, still focus primarily on Schwarz’s images, which were taken between the late 1980s and early 2000s.
Added to these, however, are new images, taken by the American photographer and writer Jason Francisco — in what Francisco describes as a “posthumous collaboration” with Schwarz and an ongoing collaboration with the British anthropologist Jonathan Webber — who worked with Schwarz for years and who provided the text for all editions of the book.
Francisco’s images date from recent years. He writes, in an introductory essay:
When the Galicia Jewish Museum approached me in 2015 to undertake an updating of Traces of Memory, the proposal was to make photographs that would be directly integrated into Schwarz’s work. The new pictures would reflect important physical changes in Jewish material and architectural patrimony in Polish Galicia, and new developments in Polish memory culture concerning the Jewish past.
Webber’s text also reflects these changes. He writes, in a Preface:
Whereas all the photographs in the first edition were made by Chris, nearly half of the 100 photographs in this new edition were taken by Jason. In many cases, the subjects of Jason’s photographs did not exist when Chris was alive and so are completely new — especially those showing the revival of Jewish life, a cultural development which […] has dramatically expanded in the past ten or 15 years. Another feature is the inclusion of photographs by Jason of some of the same places that Chris documented in the 1990s, making it possible in this new edition to compare how Jewish heritage looked twenty-five years ago with what it looks like today. […] Such contrasts are perhaps one of the unique strengths of the material included in this revised edition.
Rediscovering Traces of Memory: The Jewish Heritage of Polish Galicia, by Jonathan Webber with photographs by Chris Schwarz and Jason Francisco, was published in June 2018 by The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, in association with Liverpool University Press.