Erica Lehrer (Montreal): Terribly Close: Polish Vernacular Artists Face the Holocaust

Can inanimate objects store and communicate traumatic memory that cannot be directly expressed? This talk examines “folk art” made by non-professional Polish artists – many of them village laborers – documenting the German Nazi occupation of Poland and the Holocaust. Made largely in the 1960s and 70s, these objects are uncanny: at times deeply moving, at others grotesque, they can also be disturbing for the ways they impose Catholic idioms on Jewish suffering, or upend accepted roles of victim, perpetrator, and bystander.