Silent Witnesses: Julian Voloj

The Jewish Art Salon is a proud collaborator in the exhibit Silent Witnesses: Migration stories through Synagogues Transformed, Rebuilt, or Left Behind.

The story of Detroit is the inspiration for this artists project and exhibition on how synagogues, as community institutions, stand as witness to the social upheavals of our time.

Conceived and sponsored by Cynthia Beth Rubin of the Cultural Heritage Artists Project, Julian Voloj of JWalks: Retracing Jewish Heritage and Yona Verwer of the Jewish Art Salon, this exhibition was initiated as a team effort and coordinated by participating artists. It will take place February and March 2012 at The Holocaust Memorial Center, Zekelman Family Campus in Farmington Hills, Metro Detroit, Michigan. More info on the exhibit here.

We will focus on several artists in the exhibit, starting with Julian Voloj. His project for this exhibit is titled: Forgotten Heritage - Uncovering Detroit’s Hidden Jewish Past.

This German-born photographer and writer explores Jewish identity and heritage in his work. His award-winning photographs have been published in a variety of newspapers and magazines including the Forward, Jerusalem Post, Tablet Magazine, and Washington Post.
Courtesy Julian Voloj
 In his own words:

"Every year, thousands of Americans visit Europe, searching for remnants of a once-thriving Jewish culture. Countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic, though their Jewish communities have nearly vanished, have become places of pilgrimage for Jewish heritage tourists. In the United States, however, while Jewish culture thrives, American Jewish heritage is usually forgotten.

As a European Jew, I am searching for Jewish heritage in metropolitan areas in North America. After a successful installment of this project in 2006, focusing on New York, I am revisiting inner-city Detroit’s former Jewish neighborhoods. In the 1940s, Detroit was home to a vibrant Jewish community with over 80,000 members with dozens of synagogues. Today, Detroit, has only a few hundred Jews and one remaining synagogue.

Detroit is often associated with urban decay, and some of the worst areas can be found north of Grand Boulevard. In 1967, this was the epicenter of the riots, but over a decade earlier, this area was home to the Jewish community with dozens of synagogues along Linwood Avenue. Today, many of these buildings are abandoned and in bad condition. Others, among them two beautiful houses of worship erected by world-renown architect Albert Kahn, have been reinvented as churches.

Exploring these places it not only exploring Detroit’s Jewish past, but the various layers of history. The Jewish community is a microcosm of the city’s history and stands symbolic for the city as a whole. The project therefore does not only rediscover Detroit’s Jewish heritage, bu t also examines Americans' approach to their own heritage".

Voloj recently had a solo show at the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy. An article on his fascinating project "WARRIORS/PEACEMAKERS: ACTIVISTS AND ARTISTS CELEBRATING THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE HOE AVENUE PEACE MEETING" appeared in Tablet Magazine.

More info on his work:

1 comment:

  1. Hope to be in 2012 between the solo exhibitors at the J Art Salon