The cold face of the moon over Chelm reminds me of the city's fabled "wise men" who reputedly tried to capture the orb, now and forever silent. In the cemetery I stumble over broken headstones, their worn Hebrew inscriptions hidden among the weeds. In Lowicz, diagonal marks on a door frame reveal that a mezuzah (threshold amulet) once greeted those who passed through. In the hamlet of Dzialoszyce, grass sprouts from the shell of a synagogue long ago torched, whilst in bustling Cracow, a museum proudly displays Yiddish books and assorted Judaica rescued from the flames. Between towns I walk in farmland and avenues of poplar and plane, leaves layered thick underfoot. Deep in the woods near Zamosc, I chance upon a crater-like wartime burial pit as big as a house, confirming that even the beech and birch bore witness to Shoah. In Warsaw bookshops, I find pre-war topographic maps that might guide me through this land as it once was, the home of my grandparents. I return to Australia with photographs, maps and a disturbing vision of mirrored emptinesses, one lunar, the other European. Can I grieve for a world I never knew? [Poland Diary, 1994]
Opened by Dr. Helen Light, Director of the Jewish Museum of Australia.
Harry Nankin is represented by Smyrnios Gallery, Melbourne and Stills Gallery, Sydney
Centre for Contemporary Photography
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Seven nights after dark