Black and white, completely different from all the nuances and shadows that they show. There is no black and white vision of who contemporary Jews are and Judah Passow shows that perfectly while taking the viewer for a trip to the Jewish UK.
It is not a common thing to meet the photographer giving a private tour of his exhibition when it is almost at its end. However, Passow, a winner of four World Press Photos awards, was present today in The Jewish Museum in London telling stories about his pictures. The project entitled 'No Place Like Home' has taken him two years to be completed. While walking through the exhibition you have an impression that one day, this graphic testimony will be displayed as 'this is how it used to be in the 21st century'. And how is it today?
Passow unearths Jewish lifestyles that used to be kept secret. Meticulously, with a surgeon's precision he opens the world that stretches from the Orthodox Jews preparations for barmitzvah to Jewish gay couples dancing passionately. He embeds himself in the reality of the individuals he immortalises. The outstanding naturalness could have been achieved only by meaningful relationships he has started while working on 'No Place Like Home'. There is one very special photograph entitled '37 minutes old'. Devorah Rachel Taylor is holding her newborn baby. The intimate atmosphere can be compared only with Vermeer's way of approaching his models. The first contact, the first breaths of the baby and mother's fulfilment are strong to the extent that while looking at the picture you just stand silent and engage yourself in living the joy. 'The father of the child texted me when the labour has started. I have just jumped to a taxi and went to the hospital' says Passow. London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Warwick... In two years the whole Jewish Great Britain has been explored. Passow is far from the imaginations one can have about Jewish lives. He does not show jolly Hanukkah parties or formal celebrations in the Synagogues. His Jews are proud of being Jewish and they say loudly 'This is us today, this is how we live, this is what we do and we are proud of that'. No posed family pictures of doubtful veracity. Some Jews he shows are angry as they do not like Easy Jet launching route to Tel Aviv, some are unsure of the future as a young soldier or excited like a couple preparing for their wedding. Passow captures brilliantly emotions that unite the Jews of all walks of life. Some of them are Orthodox, some Reformed, some not religious at all, but the author finds ways to unwinds his panorama of modern jewry in the UK.
The avenue Passow is building comes across slaughterhouse in Luton where the butchers are awkwardly heroic in their mundane work. He shows a changing room of Maccabi Lions team where sweated bodies are filling the frame. It could be any changing room, virtually anywhere albeit a tattoo that one of the player has on his neck. Little bits and pieces that create identity give clues of the histories the individuals have.Countless shots taken in colour has been turned into black and white. The classic documentary style, which brilliantly preserves much more than just what has been shown. The relationships Passow has been embarking on during his project have been translated into 98 pictures that are giving a genuine account of the contemporary Jews in Great Britain. The British Jewish life Has never been depicted with such a intimate touch.
Written by Pavel Pustelnik