Book look: Josef Polleross

“Heute in Wien 2012” is the name of an excellent photo exhibit which was on at the Viennese Jewish Museum’s (JMW) Judenplatz location. Josef Polleross’ images can compared to and linked with Harry Weber’s photographs from the early 1990s. Weber’s images were on display in 1996, as JMW director Danielle Spera explains in her foreword for the “Heute in Wien 2012” catalogue.1

Polleross’ pictures capture Jewish life in the Austrian capital in the 21st century. The photographer – who worked for the New York Times among other media – took pictures at the Maccabi Games 2011. He also portrayed the Austrian writers Robert Schindel, Doron Rabinovici and Robert Menasse during a conversation at a coffeehouse table. Several photographs show Jewish kids at school and adults holding traditional celebrations.

The catalogue – which consists of six chapters (faith, daily life, education & sport, culture, yesterday, feasts) – also includes an image showing Erich Lessing. The renowned snapper was once active for the prestigious Magnum agency. Polleross portrayed him while looking at a photo showing late Austrian chancellor Bruno Kreisky. The Social Democrat had Jewish roots but clashed with respected personalities of the religion because of his controversial Middle East policies. Kreisky died in 1990. Lessing today owns a gallery situated in Vienna’s Innere Stadt district.

Not all of Polleross’ photographs were taken in Vienna. Some images which can be found in “Heute in Wien 2012” show survivors of the Nazi regime at the former concentration camp in Mauthausen in the Austrian province of Upper Austria. They gather there year after year to commemorate the victims.

Heute in Wien 2012
By Josef Polleross

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