SOURCE: Thinking Through Photography

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Issue 107 – Spring 2022

SIGNS

Like estranged cousins, the road sign and the photograph appear to be related in only a formal sense, perhaps part of some larger family of objects that convey meanings, one clear and direct, the other prone to vagueness. But recently what is obvious or not obvious has seemed less straightforward; we ask ‘Is this the speed limit?’ and ‘Is this a party?’ as if they were the same type of question. Partygate is only the most recent instance of Prime Minister Boris Johnson making simple rules uncertain, Judith Williamson helps us interpret the photographic evidence to find out what has occured.

 

It is worth remembering that we still place faith in photographs to provide evidence. Our archive feature is made up of images from a photographic album held in the collection of The Wiener Holocaust Library in London. It was made in 1935, the year after the Reich ‘treachery law’ had criminalised any activity deemed to cause damage to the welfare of the Third Reich and the prestige of its ruling Nazi party (legislation chillingly echoed in President Putin’s law to punish anyone spreading ‘false information’ about his invasion of Ukraine). The album was made by German-Jewish businessman, Fritz Fürstenberg and his fiancée, Käthe Smoszewski who, with considerable personal risk, documented antisemtic signs dotted throughout the German countryside, its towns and villages. The album was created to be disseminated as evidence of antisemitism in Germany. Jonathan Long, who introduces the pictures, notes the perturbing way “propaganda had become so much part of the everyday”

— The Editors

 

Published by Photoworks North in Cooperation with the Gallery of Photography

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