Louis Kaplan, Curator Talk: "Ilse Bing at Sea: Navigating a German-Jewish Refugee's Photographic Journey"

When and Where

Monday, March 04, 2024 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Room 100
Jackman Humanities Building
170 St. George St., Toronto, ON M5R 2M8


Louis Kaplan


Joseph Lebovic Lecture 

Louis Kaplan (University of Toronto)

Curator Talk: “Ilse Bing at Sea: Navigating a German-Jewish Refugee's Photographic Journey”

In conjunction with this year’s curated art exhibition at the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies, Professor Louis Kaplan reviews the compelling story behind the nine photographs on display taken by the German-Jewish photographer Ilse Bing (1899-1998) on board the S.S. Winnipeg in May 1941 while escaping Vichy France and Nazi Germany on one of the last ships to carry refugees out of war-torn Europe. He navigates Bing’s life journey in terms of a number of artistic, socio-political, and historical contexts while paying careful attention to the particular Jewish themes raised in and by her work. Finally, Kaplan explores the resurgence of interest in Bing’s photographic work among scholars and curators in this century.


Louis Kaplan is Professor of History and Theory of Photography and New Media in the Graduate Department of Art History and affiliated faculty member with the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. He was the founding chair of the Department of Visual Studies at the Mississauga campus where he holds his primary appointment. He is widely recognized in the field of photography studies and is the author of numerous books in this field including Photography and Humour (Reaktion, 2017), American Exposures (Minnesota, 2005), and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: Biographical Writings (Duke, 1995). His award-winning At Wit’s End: The Deadly Discourse on the Jewish Joke (Fordham) was Choice 2020 Outstanding Academic Title in Humanities – Performing Arts and published in German by Die Andere Bibliothek in Berlin. Recently, he was Visiting Professor of Judaic Studies in the Frankel Institute at the University of Michigan in conjunction with their current theme year on “Jewish Visual Cultures.” Professor Kaplan’s latest research project (“Jewish Photographic Humor in Dark Times: Reflections on Visual First Responders to the Third Reich”) explores the use of bitter irony and black humour in a constellation of Jewish photographers during Nazi Germany’s first years.



This event will be delivered in-person in JHB100 (170 St. George Street) on Monday, March 4, 2024 at 4 PM.


Joseph Lebovic Lecture


170 St. George St., Toronto, ON M5R 2M8