Sarah Mei Herman at Kaunas photography gallery
Solo exhibition Germano
On view from April 12 until May 28, 2023
In 2016 photographer and artist Sarah Mei Herman found a box of photographs taken by her grandfather Mordechai. Together with his younger brother Jehuda he ran a photography studio in Kaunas, Lithuania before the second world war. This studio was named Germano, Lithuanian for Herman.
Foto Germano specialized in family portraits. Herman recognized marked similarities between her own work and the portraits made by her grandfather in the 1920s and 1930s; the composition, the quiet faces, the subdued looks. This was to be the starting point of an investigation into the pre- and post-war history of the Germano family. During her time as an artist in residence at Kaunas Photography Gallery, Herman conducted archival research and explored some of the places where her family members had lived and worked.
During her research, Herman visited Tonia Levin (1925-2019), the daughter of her grandfather’s eldest brother Solomon. At that time Levin was the only living family member who had personally experienced the photo studio. She barely survived the Holocaust and moved to Israel after the war, taking the memories with her which are central to this exhibition. Using archival documents, letters, multimedia elements as well as portraits of Tonia’s family, Herman composed an ode to Levin and the strength with which she rebuilt her life after the war.
Alongside the work about Tonia’s life and memories Herman presents portraits from her series “Julian & Jonathan”, about the relationship between her father and her 21 years younger half brother Jonathan. In this way Herman shows the continuation of the Herman family. Germano brings the family history back to its origins and explores the notions of fate and survival, 75 years after the Holocaust.
Kaunas Photography Gallery
Vilniaus st. 2, Kaunas, LT-44280
go to the Kaunas’ website