In 2016, French photographer Frédéric Brenner launched a three-year project to document contemporary Jewish life in Berlin. He photographed a wide range of people, some had made the German capital their home, others were travelling through. This exhibition walks you through the diversity of Jewish life in Berlin and explores the complexity of Jewish-German history.
Jewish life in Berlin
Berlin is a city in which the memory of the destruction of Jewish life can be felt all around. It was in the German capital that the systematic persecution and extermination of Europe’s Jews was planned and organized. Yet today, Germany’s Jewish community of over 200,000 souls is among the world’s fastest growing. The inherent incongruity between Berlin’s history and the vibrancy of contemporary Jewish life in the city was the starting point for Brenner’s project: Zerheilt - Healed to Pieces.
Identity and self-representation
The photos displayed in the exhibition show fragments of Jewish life in Berlin today: German Jews who have lived in Berlin for generations, young Israelis who have settled in Berlin, Orthodox rabbis, artists and Germans who have converted to Judaism. With their dress, pose and location Brenner’s subjects determine for themselves how and which aspects of their identity they wish to reveal.
ZERHEILT – Healed to Pieces is a photographic essay that comprises an exhibition and a book. Brenner has borrowed the word ‘Zerheilt’ from the poet Paul Celan, combining the words 'zerstören' (destroy) and 'zu heilen' (heal). In English, the title translates as ‘healed to pieces’; the Dutch is ‘aan stukken genezen’.
Frédéric Brenner (b. 1959, Paris) studied French literature and social anthropology at the Sorbonne in Paris. He has worked as a photographer since the late 1970s, making his name with photo series that reveal the diversity of Jewish communities around the world. Brenner has been represented by Howard Greenberg Gallery of New York since 1990 and his work is to be found in various museum and private collections, including that of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the International Center of Photography (both in New York). Brenner is a laureate of the French Prix de Rome (1992) and a fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin (2016/17).
The exhibition is in the Jewish Museum, Nieuwe Amstelstraat 1, 1011PL, Amsterdam. The museum is housed in the centuries-old former synagogue complex of the Ashkenazi Jewish community.
Your ticket provides admission to all exhibitions in all locations in the Jewish Cultural Quarter. You may also attend all events without any additional charge (unless otherwise indicated). Museumkaart holders do not need a ticket.