Reconstructing Life Stories of Holocaust Survivors Through Art: The Cases of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz and Ilana Ravek

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This article discusses the late works of two women Holocaust survivors, Esther Nisenthal Krinitz and Ilana Ravek, as seen through the prism of the artistic reconstructing of a life story. Their life stories are expressed in works depicting their Holocaust experiences together with additional “rehabilitation” works illustrating elements such as their childhood before the Holocaust, their establishment of families afterwards, their experience of parenthood and grandparenthood, their successful resettlement in their new countries and their acquisition of a new national identity. Each of these artists' work represents a different approach to the construction of a life story. Nisenthal Krinitz's art works exemplify a linear narrative approach, displaying a sequence of events arranged chronologically in an interrelated plot at whose centre stands her Holocaust story, wrapped by works depicting her life before and afterwards. Ravek's works, which are not limited to her Holocaust experience and its ramifications, demonstrate the second approach, which requires far more active involvement on the part of the viewer. Both artists' life stories express a conflicted ambivalent consciousness, as tragic depictions coexist side by side with images of rehabilitation. The enfolding of the past in the present assists them in their reconstruction of a consecutive identity that has a past, present, and future and enables them to give meaning to their life after their survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-266
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Modern Jewish Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 May 2016

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© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


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