Chasing Shadows

The Uses of Photography in the Work of Second-Generation Visual Artists in the UK

in European Judaism
Monica Bohm-DuchenSotheby's Institute of Art, Tate, the National Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts and Birkbeck, University of London, England

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Drawing on the influential concept of postmemory first mooted by Marianne Hirsch, and on the links between photography and mortality first explored by Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, this article analyses the work of ten largely UK-based visual artists who, as members of the so-called second generation (namely, the descendants of Holocaust survivors and refugees), make use of the photographic medium to engage creatively and conceptually – and often in a conspicuously gendered way – with the legacy of their families’ traumatic histories. Some of the artists (Halter, Tucker) base their handcrafted imagery directly on pre-war family photographs; others (Winckler, Brunstein, Petzal, Gorney, Kerr, Davidmann) incorporate actual photographs, past and present, into mixed media artworks, frequently manipulating and even doing violence to them. Others again (Garbasz) use photographs taken in the present to reach out to an inaccessible past, while yet others (Markiewicz) employ a more abstract and allusive approach to the medium.

Contributor Notes

Monica Bohm-Duchen is an independent lecturer, writer and curator. Based in London, the institutions she has worked for include the Courtauld Institute, Sotheby's Institute of Art, Tate, the National Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts and Birkbeck, University of London. Her many publications include After Auschwitz: Responses to the Holocaust in Contemporary Art, Rubies and Rebels: Jewish Female Identity in Contemporary British Art and Art and the Second World War. She is the founding director of Insiders/Outsiders ( and contributing editor of its companion volume, Insiders/Outsiders: Refugees from Nazi Europe and Their Contribution to British Visual Culture.

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European Judaism

A Journal for the New Europe


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