Agnieszka Traczewska, film producer and photographer.
Since 2006 she has been creating a series of photographs devoted to Hassids travelling to Poland to visit the graves of Tzadikim. While this is the main theme of her work, she also portrays the world of Orthodox Jewish communities living in Israel and the United States. In 2014, she received the National Geographic Traveler Photo Award for her work “First Time”.
"On my very first journey to Leżajsk (Yid. Lizhensk), Poland for Rebbe Elimelech’s Yohrtzeit (anniversary of death), I had no idea that photography of Chassidim will become my lifelong passion. All I knew was that there are men there that are part of my countries story, part of my history, and so I had to see, learn, capture and connect.
My childhood memories were dotted with images of men dressed in black praying on holy sites throughout the landscapes of my country. I’ve seen them in storybooks as well though I never fully grasped their meaning. Both, between them and their rituals and between them and Poland.
As the saying goes, it’s not where you are, it’s the direction you’re going. I am now in my 11th year of photographing, interviewing and fostering friendships with my subjects. There have been many struggles and obstacles on my way in coming through to this insular community. Against all odds though, I’m still here, still traveling, shtetl to shtetl, reconstructing a panorama of former Jewish presence in all its glory with the clinging memory of its descendants.
It is my hope that these photographs will give the world a glimpse of a shared people with a shared past, and dare I say... a shared future."
Individual photographic exhibitions:
“Bracha-Blessing. About Hassidim returning to not-to-be-forgotten places”, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York, 2009;
“Children of Eretz Israel”, District Museum in Tarnów, 2012;
“Hassidim by Agnieszka Traczewska”, Festival International de la Photographie Sociale, Paris-Sarcelle, 2012;
“Children of Eretz Israel”, White Stork Synagogue, Simcha Festival, Wrocław 2013;
“Children of Eretz Israel”, High Synagogue, Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, 2013;
“Children of Eretz Israel”, Museum of Masovian Jews in Płock, 2015;
“Children of Eretz Israel”, Włodawa Synagogue, Festival of Three Cultures, 2016;
“Children of Eretz Israel”, Dialogue Center in Łódź, 2017;
“Children of Eretz Israel”, Close ups Festival, Gdańsk, 2017;
“Hassidic Returns to Not-To-Be Forgotten Places”, Neve Shalom Synagogue, Istanbul, 2017
„Returns” Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Polin, Warsaw , 2018
„Returns” Cracow Film Festival, Krakow , 2018
„Returns” Galicjaner Shtetl Festival, Tarnów, 2018
„Returns” The Jewish Culture Festival, Alter Synagogue, Kraków, 2018
„Returns” , The Four Cultures Festival, Funeral House, Łódź, 2018
„Returns”, Planty 7, The Jan Karski Society, Kielce
„Hannuka”, Polish Parlament, Chabad Lubavitch, 2018
"Bracha/Blessing. Back to Polish Shtetls" The United Nations, New York, US, 2019