Ukraine Series, Horodenka I, 2013
C-Print, 126x159 cm
© Johanna Diehl
Courtesy Johanna Diehl und Galerie Wilma Tolksdorf Frankfurt/Berlin
Johanna Diehl. Ukraine SeriesPinakothek der Moderne
The Ukraine Series by Johanna Diehl (b. 1977 in Hamburg) comprises views into former synagogues in modern-day Ukraine. Victims of the anti-religious political doctrine of the Soviet Union, they were stripped of their original purpose in the years between the two World Wars and some were turned into municipal centres, such as cinemas, sports halls and clubs – roles which they often still fulfil today. Religious life moved from the synagogue to the private realm. In the years between 1941 and 1944, Jewish communities and their culture were almost totally destroyed in the Holocaust by the German occupying powers.
In her photographs Johanna Diehl seeks out the historical layers of these alienated places. The buildings are depicted principally from the interior and always void of people. The artist thus directs our gaze towards the structure and furnishings of the rooms, individual elements of which often still bear visible traces of their original religious function. Architecture is transformed into a silent witness of times gone by; what it has experienced is revealed just as much through the surviving remnants of its interior, its tears and cracks, as through its new surfaces and modern furnishings.