Art can not only represent trauma, but also inspire healthy resilience across generations. Even under the most extreme circumstances, when communities face catastrophe and individuals face terror, loss and grief there is a desire to be remembered that can be empowered by photography. Subsequently, these photographs can serve as memories for a heritage not only of trauma but also of resilience.
ABCI’s president, Dr. Harold Bursztajn, MD, has a long-standing interest in the relationship of art and the artist to the representation of massive psychic trauma. This is explored in his article in the Psychiatric Times, “The Healing Power of Photographs,” which examines the 2017 Museum of Fine Arts Boston exhibition of Henryk Ross’ photographs of the Lodz Ghetto. The relationship between art and moral resilience is further explored in a gallery talk by Dr. Bursztajn during the exhibition.
Ross captured the dignity, beauty, resistance, and resilience of the Ghetto’s inhabitants. These artful portrayals of hope in the midst of suffering, life in the midst of death, love in the midst of hate, vitality in the midst of entropy, move this exhibition from photojournalism to art in the tradition of Rembrandt, Turner, Goya, and Bloom.
More information about Dr. Bursztajn’s family’s Lodz Ghetto story can be found in this interview with WBUR’s Bob Oakes and in the Psychiatric Times article “Revisiting Lodz, Poland in 2011 and Reconstructing How My Parents Survived the Shoah (1939-1945).”