Saturday, November 20, 2010

Center for Jewish History - 16mm Postcards Exhibit

Through Ruth Ellen Gruber's excellent and informative blog, I discovered this amazing exhibit taking place right under my nose in NYC at the Center for Jewish History. 16MM Postcards brings to life 1930's Poland, in not just the still pictures we are so used to seeing, but in home movies shot by those who were there. Sadly, there is no sound. Imagine how much more we could have learned about these people and their circumstances at the time had the ability to record a home movie in sound existed back then.

The exhibit shows Polish Jews who came to the U.S. returning to visit their relatives still living in Poland. The website text points out a significant development: those who left Poland and have lived in America for some time have a very different look about them. They look 'American' when placed next to their poorer still-living-in-Poland relatives. How they dress, how they carry themselves is familiar to us here in 2010. The move to America and the assimilation to follow has had its impact on them and how they present themselves to the world. It's a fascinating look at how life in America can change a person.

What's also so powerful about these movies is that those still living in Poland would have no idea what's approaching on the horizon. These people would all be gone in another 10 years or so from when these movies were filmed.

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