Jan-Christopher Horak – Helmar Lerski between the Diaspora and a Jewish Homeland

Event Date: 18 March 2021
ZOOM meeting, recorded

European Leo Baeck Institute Lecture Series 2021

Conceptions of Heimat in Jewish Visual History and Culture

A lecture series organised by the Leo Baeck Institute London in cooperation with the German Historical Institute London.

The lecture series examines the German-Jewish and European-Jewish notion of Heimat and its diverse and changing visual representations and interpretations during the course of history. It looks at the subject through a prism of visual media, such as the arts, photography, film and fashion, as well as literature and social media, etc.


Lecture 2:

Prof Jan-Christopher Horak (UCLA) – Helmar Lerski between the Diaspora and a Jewish Homeland

The nomadic photographer and filmmaker Helmar Lerski was born in Alsace, raised in Switzerland, began his professional career in Milwaukee, moved to Germany, travelled to Erez Israel and ultimately retired in Switzerland. Aesthetically, Lerski sought to communicate timeless values through the manipulation of light and the physiognomy of the human face in extreme close-ups. His photo project ‘Jewish Heads’ started his search for a distinct Jewish identity. While advocating a Jewish homeland as a Zionist filmmaker, Lerski remained loyal to his artistic vision. This dichotomy between identifying Jewishness in the Diaspora and a national Jewish identity tied to the land of Israel, between biology and environment, eternal art and propaganda, makes Lerski’s work rich and still contemporary.

Prof Horak is the former Director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive, the Munich Filmmuseum and Curator at the George Eastman Museum. He teaches at UCLA and is the multi-award-winning author of numerous books on film historical subjects.

Introduction and Welcome by Dr Daniel Wildmann (Director, LBI) and Dr Michael Schaich (Deputy Director, GHIL):




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