I have known Loli and this project for as long as I have been involved in the photographic community. Beyond the beautiful imagery, I admire her commitment to this work. When many photographers are going on week-long vacations and creating what they consider to be a complete body of work, it is doubly impressive to witness Loli's dedication and passion for this project over ten years. And besides all of that, she is an absolutely lovely human being, which just makes all of her successes that much sweeter.
Beyond the Forest by Loli Kantor
Beyond the Forest photographic series represents the fragile renewal of Jewish Life in Eastern Europe in the early 21st century. The photographs were taken over a span of nearly a decade, mostly in Poland and Ukraine, using a variety of photographic language to express the absence, as well as the presence, of Jewish life and culture there.
This project began while Kantor, an Israeli-American photographer, turned a journey to discover the world of her ancestors, most having perished in the Holocaust, into a broader engagement with the daily life of Jews of Eastern Europe in the early 21st century. Kantor’s photographs tell a story of the fragile reemergence of Jewish life in rural and urban Poland and Ukraine.
Kantor visited Jews living in the small villages (former shtetls/ small villages which were predominantly Jewish before WWII and now almost extinct) as well as in the larger towns, where a presence of Jewish cultural rebirth was apparent. Jewish identity has been preserved in these larger communities, but is near extinct in the smaller villages. By returning to some of the same places over several years, gaining the trust and the access required to photograph these places, Kantor was able to photograph both the personal and communal daily life, as well as aspects of religious/traditions practiced.
Beyond the Forest was published as a monograph in November 2014 by the University of Texas Press. I encourage you to check it out here.