Sunday, October 23rd, at 5:30 p.m.
Featuring essays by Stefan Kanfer and Jenna Weissman Joselit, Marisa Scheinfeld’s The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland traces the history of the fabled Catskill R&R mecca through photographs of abandoned sites where resorts, hotels and bungalow colonies once boomed. Absorb the vestigial wonders her camera captures so eloquently and join Marisa Scheinfeld for a talk, q&a, and signing.
Today the Borscht Belt is recalled through the nostalgic lens of summer swims, Saturday night dances, and comedy performances. But its current state, like that of many other formerly glorious regions, is nothing like its earlier status. From entire expanses of abandoned properties to small lots containing drained swimming pools, the remains of the era now lie forgotten, overgrown, and vacant. In the absence of human activity, nature has reclaimed the sites, having encroached upon or completely overtaken them. The book assembles images Scheinfeld has shot inside and outside locations that once buzzed with life as year-round havens for generations of people. Other sites have since been demolished, or repurposed, making this book a even more significant documentation of a pivotal era in American Jewish history.
“…The party’s over, and the guests are gone, never to return. Enter Marisa Scheinfeld, whose camera finds profound eloquence in the silence that remains, and hope in new life emerging from the ruins. The story was already ancient when Shelley penned Ozymandias: that all things grand eventually fall. But Scheinfeld’s work is all the more moving, because these things are ours, now.” — Alan Weisman, Author, Countdown & The World Without Us
Marisa Scheinfeld’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is among the collections of Yeshiva University Museum at The Center for Jewish History, The National Yiddish Book Center, The Simon Wiesenthal Center, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art & Life and The Edmund and Nancy K. Dubois Library at the Museum of Photographic Arts.
The Borscht Belt is also a traveling exhibition which is accompanied by a presentation of ephemera and a re-photographic series of “now”and “then” imagery composed by using found postcards and creating a mirror image of their present day depictions.