At the Jewish Museum and the Photographers’ Gallery

Daniel Trilling

Roman Vishniac, Jewish school children, Mukačevo, c.1935-38

© Mara Vishniac Kohn. Courtesy International Center of Photography. On display at Jewish Museum London.

An exhibition split between the Jewish Museum and the Photographers' Gallery – until 24 February; there’s still time, just, to go this weekend if you can – revisits the work of Roman Vishniac, best known for recording the lives of Eastern European Jews in the years immediately before the Second World War.

Born in Russia, displaced first to Berlin in 1920 and then New York in the 1940s, Vishniac produced a series of portraits of daily life – in city neighbourhoods of Warsaw, Krakow and Lublin; in the villages of Ruthenia and the towns of the Carpathians – just as these communities were about to be wiped from existence by the Nazis and their collaborators. 

21 February 2019

Who’s next?

Christopher Bertram

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has revoked Shamima Begum’s British citizenship. Begum left the UK with two friends four years ago, at the age of 15, to join Daesh. She now finds herself stateless, with a newborn and possibly British baby in a Syrian refugee camp. Public sympathy in the UK has been limited. Begum has said she wasn’t ‘fazed’ by the sight of severed heads in bins, and suggested that the Manchester Arena bombing was payback for airstrikes against Daesh territory. She has regrets, but little remorse. Still, she was born and grew up in the UK, and when she left as a child she had been groomed online by a criminal organisation. 

20 February 2019

Protest Politics

Lorna Finlayson

On Monday, seven MPs resigned from the Labour Party – though not from their seats in the Commons – to form a new ‘Independent Group’ in Parliament. An eighth joined them yesterday, and three Tories today. Few people, arguably including the splitters themselves, have much confidence that the breakaway group can garner significant public support, or achieve any particular objective.

20 February 2019

Ten Years On

Thomas Jones

The LRB blog was launched in March 2009. Nearly ten years later, it was creaking at the seams and in need of an update – which, as you can see, we’ve now done. It doesn’t only look different – better, we think – but there have been various behind-the-scenes changes too (i.e. a complete overhaul) so it should all work more smoothly.

19 February 2019

On Qanats

Oliver Miles

A cross-section of a typical qanat. Image © Samuel Bailey

Last year, a walker in the hills west of Guadalajara, Mexico came across a large hole that looked like the entrance to a railway tunnel. (The Mexican Guadalajara is named after the city in central Spain; the word is Arabic, meaning ‘valley of stones’‎.) He walked inside it a long way, noticing that every eleven metres there was a hole in the ceiling admitting sunlight. He had found a qanat.

18 February 2019

At Victoria Miro

Alice Spawls

Francesca Woodman’s early death, at the age of 22, has cast a long shadow over her work. In the preceding years (her father gave her a camera when she was 13), especially those spent at Rhode Island School of Design and in New York, she produced a wealth of images: there are more than 10,000 negatives. This leaves a problem for her estate (her parents, George and Betty Woodman, are both artists) and her curators: it has been left to others to select, group and edit her archive. Eight hundred prints have been made, of which fewer than two hundred have been exhibited.

15 February 2019

Not Enough Insects?

Hugh Pennington

Eriozona syrphoides. Photo © Frank Vassen

A recent review by scientists in Australia of 73 historical studies of insect decline concluded that insect biodiversity is threatened worldwide, and 40 per cent of insect species are threatened with extinction over the next few decades. But there is a puzzle. The classes that are declining fastest are butterflies, bees and dung beetles. No one is going out of their way to eliminate them. Other insects that we attack deliberately and for which extinction would be a cause for celebration are doing well.

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