Visions of the tenement: Jews, photography, and modernity on the lower east side

Visions of the tenement: Jews, photography, and modernity on the lower east side © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011 IMAGES 4 Also available online – brill.nl/ima DOI: 10.1163/187180010X547648 SARA BLAIR University of Michigan VISIONS OF THE TENEMENT: JEWS, PHOTOGRAPHY, AND MODERNITY ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE Abstract Scholars have recently begun to focus on the problem of explaining a signal phenomenon: the preponderance of Jews (the so-called “people of the book”) in the development of modern photography. Against identitarian readings, this essay stresses the embeddedness of photography’s developing interests in a specific site in which both Jewishness and modernity were being made and remade: the variably iconic Lower East Side. Long imagined as a world apart, that space embodied the most profound and urgent paradoxes of historicity; it became a proving-ground for the powers of the camera to document new urgencies of social experience, and the experience of historicity itself. In particular, the built landscape and the iconography of its distinctive form, the tenements, became a resource for photographers of various affiliations for new stylistics and registers of response. Focusing on the difference the Lower East made to photographic practice, this essay aims to bring into view the importance of that site to the emergence of postwar photography, and to account http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Images Brill

Visions of the tenement: Jews, photography, and modernity on the lower east side

Images , Volume 4 (1): 57 – Jan 1, 2010

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Publisher
BRILL
Copyright
© 2010 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1871-7993
eISSN
1871-8000
D.O.I.
10.1163/187180010X547648
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011 IMAGES 4 Also available online – brill.nl/ima DOI: 10.1163/187180010X547648 SARA BLAIR University of Michigan VISIONS OF THE TENEMENT: JEWS, PHOTOGRAPHY, AND MODERNITY ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE Abstract Scholars have recently begun to focus on the problem of explaining a signal phenomenon: the preponderance of Jews (the so-called “people of the book”) in the development of modern photography. Against identitarian readings, this essay stresses the embeddedness of photography’s developing interests in a specific site in which both Jewishness and modernity were being made and remade: the variably iconic Lower East Side. Long imagined as a world apart, that space embodied the most profound and urgent paradoxes of historicity; it became a proving-ground for the powers of the camera to document new urgencies of social experience, and the experience of historicity itself. In particular, the built landscape and the iconography of its distinctive form, the tenements, became a resource for photographers of various affiliations for new stylistics and registers of response. Focusing on the difference the Lower East made to photographic practice, this essay aims to bring into view the importance of that site to the emergence of postwar photography, and to account

Journal

ImagesBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2010

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