Rue des Rosiers - Le Marais juif par Alécio de Andrade, 1974-75

Art , Photography
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12 rue Pavée, 1975 / © Alécio de Andrade, ADAGP, Paris, 2013
Boucherie Emouna, 25 rue des Rosiers, 1975 / © Alécio de Andrade, ADAGP, Paris, 2013
Simone Veil lors du 30e anniversaire de la libération d'Auschwitz, à la synagogue de la Victoire, 27 janvier 1975 / © Alécio de Andrade, ADAGP, Paris, 2013
M. Alter et un autre homme, 34 rue des Rosiers, 1975 / © Alécio de Andrade, ADAGP, Paris, 2013

Today, small traditional businesses in Paris are closing one after the other, replaced by prét-à-porter boutiques and high street chains trying to attract tourists. But in the heart of the Marais, the Pletzl (‘small square’ in Yiddish) retains its originality. It's the most well-known Jewish area in Paris, welcoming many the 1880s when there was an influx of exiles from pogroms in Russia. In 1975, when Brazilian photographer Alécio de Andrade began to explore the area, it seemed to be forgotten by modernity: its tiny streets, old boutiques with bilingual signs, strictly kosher restaurants, study rooms and synagogues seemed to exist outside of time, even more so when captured in the South American photojournalist's grainy black-and-white style. If a few bellbottom trousers can be spotted, hinting at the wider tone of the era, it’s amazing to see how the Rue des Rosiers and surrounds still gave off airs of the 19th century in the '70s.

There’s nothing very revolutionary about the 60 or so shots on display at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme, but Andrade’s pictures, somewhere between reportage and humanist documentary, do capture a key moment in the history of the Jewish Marais. Even though it was largely dominated by emigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, this period saw many Jews arrive from North Africa, while the generation that knew the Holocaust slowly disappeared. The end of an era, then, which Andrade captured with a light touch through multiple expressive, spontaneous portraits taken in the streets or during religious ceremonies.

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