25 October 2022. Univ-Prof Dr Amos Morris-Reich “Helmar Lerski’s ‘Jewish and Arab Types’ Project: Political and Aesthetic Perspectives”
This talk addresses the “failed” project of arguably the most prominent art photographer working
in British Mandate Palestine:the 1930s “Jewish and Arab Types” project by German-born Swiss American Jewish art photographer Helmar Lerski. Lerski’s project involves at least two significant
political contexts. The first is racial photography within science, art, and popular culture, and the
second is Zionism. The talk will pay special attention to Lerski’s photographic method and to its
relationship to the aesthetic and political question of “light” in 1930s Palestine. The talk will attempt
to develop the argument that, in opposition to most recent (especially American) historiography,
aesthetic rather than political categories can better explain Lerski’s motivations, method, and the
grounds of “failure”.
Words of Greeting: Univ Prof Dr RaphaelRosenberg, Department of Art History
Moderation: Univ Prof (em.) Dr Mitchell G. Ash, President of the Center for Israel Studies Vienna
Amos Morris-Reich is The Geza Roth Chair of Modern Jewish History, the Director of The Stephen
Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, and a Professor at The Cohn
Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University.
His book Photography and Jewish History: Five Twentieth Century Cases has just appeared in October 2022 with Penn University Press. His previous book is Race and Photography: Racial Photography as Scientific Evidence, 1876 – 1980 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016)