Photo Essays





50++ is the tenantive title for a show to celebrate Laurence Salzmann’s 50++ years as a photographer, to take place 2020-2021.

Up to 12 Philadelphia venues are being invited to host one of the multiple shows planned to celebrate this important milestone.

By reaching out to different venues the broader scope of Salzmann’s work can be seen and enjoyed by wider audiences.

The Salzmann Archive follows the development of Salzmann’s unique vision from his early works on urban poverty in northern Mexico and in New York City, to his deep and poignant projects in 1970s Romania, to his monumental ethnography of Turkey’s late-20th century Jewish communities, to his extensive documentary works on the life worlds that Mexican immigrants to the US leave behind, to his most recent works in rural Peru. At the same time, the Archive presents a broad range of Salzmann’s fine art projects, many of them exploring the human body at play and in expressive movement.

Among the Archive’s highlights is Last Jews of Radauti (1974-76), a document of post-Holocaust Jewish life in the town of Radauti, Romania, in the Bukovina region. Salzmann’s photographs and films enter the worlds of some 250 Jews remaining in the once predominately Jewish town, following their stories and fortunes over an extended period of time. In contrast to other “last Jews” projects of the era, which tended to show Holocaust survivors as downtrodden victims of history, Salzmann’s work shows how the community managed to reinvent Jewish life in the aftermath of catastrophe, on its own terms and against the forces of loss. In 1983 Salzmann’s book Last Jews of Rădăuţi was published to national acclaim; the work received a solo exhibition at the International Center of Photography in New York, and Salzmann’s accompanying film was broadcast nationally on PBS. Last Jews of Radauti is the center of a constellation of other works on Romania, including Salzmann’s celebrated La Baie/Bath Scenes, made in the public baths of Last Jews of Radauti; Souvenirs of a Recent Time, a poetic travelogue through Romanian cities; and Mioritza, following the mythic and actual trails of Romanian shepherds.

A native of Philadelphia and a lifelong resident, Salzmann has built his career with great independence of spirit, and the Kislak Center’s acquisition of his archive ensures his legacy in the city of his birth, and to the world at large. In celebration of the Kislak Center’s acquisition, Laurence Salzmann seeks opportunities to show selected projects in local venues to form a Year of Laurence Salzmann in the Philadelphia region. The vision is for several focused exhibitions to occur at Philadelphia area venues, together forming a cross-sampling of some of the many projects of a key documentary artist of our time, from a career spanning over fifty years.

A list of Laurence Salzmann's work can be found here.