Adam Golfer, a 26-year-old photographer based in Brooklyn, is the Jewish grandson of Holocaust survivors. His exhibit at Goethe-Institut, “kin*,” is, in his words, a “personal documentary that examines the connection between the German and Jewish people more than 60 years after the fall of the Third Reich.” Appropriately for someone working several generations removed from the Holocaust, Golfer’s use of color, rather than the historically suggestive black-and-white, defines his photographs as contemporary. His images essentially fall into two categories—-portraits and places. The portraits, while polished, suffer from a lack of information about who the people are or why we should care about them. Golfer’s German places, on the other hand, come with crucial background information in an accompanying handout, making them compelling not just visually but also thematically. A peaceful trail in the woods is jolted by the presence of a tree jutting up from the middle of the pebbled path; fittingly jarring is the realization is that the scene is at the site of the Wannsee Conference, where the Final Solution was hatched. In another image, a bucolic lakeside park playing host to bicyclists and picknickers (below) turns out to be the site of the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, while an enigmatic swoosh of red and white tape slicing through a thick forest turns out to be at Dachau. A more hopeful grace note comes from a spindly looking bench backed by a flimsy, hand-drawn Israeli flag (above). It turns out to be owned by the first privately funded Jewish center established in Germany in more than six decades. The bench and sign are fragile, but they offer tangible evidence of regeneration—-a fitting emblem for an exhibit that self-consciously balances the weight of history with a desire to build anew.
The exhibit is on view 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday to June 3 at Goethe-Institut, 812 7th St NW. Free. (202) 289-1200.