Fragments: Jewish Cemeteries in search of lost times

Fragments: Jewish Cemeteries in search of lost times

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Author: Oscar Riera Ojeda

Publisher: Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers Limited 

Hardback

Published March 2022

Jewish cemeteries are unusual places for me. When I started to photograph them I was reading the novel written by Marcel Proust, "In Search of Lost Time". As I understood his writing, the novel is dedicated to memory and to the passing of time.

To how much remains in our collective memories after the people who passed away, and the time in which they lived, has gone. Proust also focuses on the things which provoke these memories. These cemeteries, are for me, similar reminders of people not known to me; their life, work, achievements and private lives.

My aim is to preserve these memories by cataloguing their disappearance and their disintegration. I took my pictures in Jewish cemeteries lying on the border of two polish regions: Silesia and Malopolska since 2007. Jews began to settle in these areas in the eleventh century.

They created their own settlements, built synagogues and founded cemeteries. They were born, lived and died. The Jews contributed to the culture and the richness of Europe until the 20th Century and 'The Final Solution', the Holocaust, when the Germans expelled and killed most of the Jews in Europe.

The extermination was devastating, destroying synagogues and cemeteries. In my work I have also included these, photographing places where they once were, and where currently there is only, for example, a square, a lawn, or even parking. In the project, I am also searching for my own 'lost time'.

The missed opportunities, the uncaptured images. It is an attempt to recall, from my own life experience, the 'might have been.' These cemeteries, are for me, similar reminders of people not known to me; their life, work, achievements and private lives. My aim is to preserve these memories by cataloguing their disappearance and their disintegration.