Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Disappearing City, And More

Gooderham-Worts Distillery Storage Warehouse, Toronto, June 1984
David Kaufman, a life-long friend from Montreal, has finally put portfolios of his photographs on the web. I say "finally" because, as visitors to his site will quickly discern, David's images are touchingly meticulous. He hesitated for many years to degrade their "aura" by putting them out in the ultimate form of "mechanical reproduction." (With the aforementioned quotes, I pretty much max-out on my deployment of Walter Benjamin.)

David's architectural photographs capture as no other visual work I know the immigrant experience in Canada at mid-century, not coincidentally the time and place of our growing up. Our Edward Hopper.
He is also a film-maker of enormous gifts, whose first film, about the Montreal poet A.M. Klein (who begat Irving Layton, who begat Leonard Cohen) is the only way I know how to cherish my childhood. His most recent film, "Song of the Lodz Ghetto," chronicles the horrors of Jewish Poland through the life of popular street-singer, Yankele Herszkowicz. It is unforgettable: I saw it screened in Toronto a couple of years ago, with a number of ghetto's survivors in the audience. They were finally understood, one elderly woman told me.

David was for many years a producer with CBC-News. That he's retired from all of that, and has given himself to his unique vision, is a relief. That he's given us a site from which to share in it is a cause for celebration.  

2 comments:

ivanpope said...

The Benjamin is actually mechanical reproduction (not representation) as in 'Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction'

Bernard Avishai said...

Thanks. You are of course right. My daughter Tamar will kill me for the slip. I'll change it.