Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood – Jour 6 - Eva Besnyo, The Sensuous Image
Friday, 22 June 2012 12:55

Imagine my delight when I saw an ad for this exhibition at Jeu de Paume. Each time I have been to Paris in the past several years, the museum has either been under renovation or not photography particularly meaningful to me. So when I saw this exhibit advertised I knew I had to go.

After two bus rides I arrived at Place de Concorde and walked down and up to the left to Jeu de Paume. If you went to the right, you would arrive at l’Orangerie, the museum that was built in particular for the Monet Water Lilies.

Eva Besnyo was born in Budapest in 1910. She was the daughter of a Jewish father, a lawyer, and a Jewish mother. She served a photographic apprenticeship from 1928 to 1930 in Budapest with Jozsef Pecsi, an internationally renowned portrait and advertising photographer.

From 1930-1932 she lived in Berlin and eventually opened her own studio. The Russian cinema and ‘New Vision and New Objectivity’ were an influence on her photography. In 1932 she realized the threat of National Socialism and the persecution of the Jews. She left Berlin and moved to Amsterdam where she once again met the film director John Ferhout who she married. He introduced her to a circle of international artists around the painter Charley Toorop, opening her own photographic studio. In 1933 she had a solo exhibition at the Kunstzaal van Lier. She recorded “Neues Bauen”(New Building) architecture. What impressed me when I saw some of these photographs was the personal feeling they evoked.

In 1940 the Netherlands were invaded by Nazi Germany. Besyno went into hiding and came out in 1944 with an invented genealogy. During that time she was prevented from working as a press photographer because of her Jewish heritage. She joins the underground and in 1944 is ‘Aryanised’ in the Hague by the Service of Classification of Litigious Ascendancies because of her fictional family tree.

I think about the concept of Narrative Therapy, a way of recreating one’s life, or rewriting one’s history. This is a very creative way of healing. As a therapist I took workshops about this. And here in 1944 a woman rewrites her life so she can again express her creativity out in the open.

Return soon to read more about this fascinating artist and Thank you for reading Not Just A Jewish Book Blog.

Click here: Eva Besyno