“Reconnecting,” Joe Baur, 2019, digital photography, 16″ x 20″
“Remembering Those Who Lived These Lives,” Joe Baur, 2019, digital photography, 16″ x 20″
Personal memory stalks the photographs of Joe Baur, who resides in Berlin, from a slightly different, somewhat broader angle. In seeking fragments of his own Jewish heritage, Bauer discovered the area from which his ancestors had come in Eastern Europe and was able to travel to one of the shtetls—or rather, former shtetls—that was presumably once vibrant with the presence of Jews and in particular of his own family. The Holocaust and its aftermath distinctly altered that. An abandoned house gave visual evidence of having once been a Jewish home whose inhabitants left, in the holes on the doorpost that marked the location where a mezuzah had once been affixed. The inhabitants remain—or rather, their physical remains are located—in the cemeteries.
He located one, desecrated, in which only a few stones still stand. He found another—shown in the two untitled images in this exhibition—its walls still largely intact, the field wildly overgrown but its inhabitants’ presence still marked, defiantly present albeit in a diminishing obviousness. Its stones rise from the earth, their inscriptions still visible and their simple, elegant decorative flourishes still evident, shooting up at increasingly oblique angles. Within the space that he has captured, earlier carriers of the artist’s own DNA, were laid to rest for several generations, several generations ago.
Joe Baur was born outside of Cleveland, Ohio. In 2015, he received his Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University For Peace in Costa Rica while reporting for The Tico Times. After a brief stint back in the United States, he moved overseas to Düsseldorf, Germany where he published “Talking Tico: (Mis)adventures of a Gringo in and Around Costa Rica” on his time in Costa Rica and served as Managing Editor for trivago Magazine––a digital travel outlet. Three years after his initial move to Düsseldorf, he relocated across the country to Berlin where he regularly reports for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and pursues other writing, photography, and filmmaking projects that often focus on identity. To learn more about Joe, check out his website www.joebaur.com.