Svetlana Boym, RIP.

Having greatly enjoyed the writing of Svetlana Boym (LH posts 1, 2), I was sorry to learn of her death from this reminiscence by Cristina Vatulescu:

August 6, the first morning we woke without Svetlana among us, found me in the old Jewish Quarter in Bucharest, in a hotel room, with an archive day ahead of me. The previous day, upon finding the news of her passing, I had left the room in distress. A walk, I thought, would give me some space to mourn. The neighborhood appeared like a mise-en-scene of a description of Svetlana’s photoscapes in her story “Remembering Forgetting: Tale of a Refugee Camp:” “transit spaces,” “warzones” “ruins,” “the banal,” “the unmemorable,” and “the unmonumental.” I first came upon the once famous Jewish Theater. It appeared to be in ruin, with a poster of its star, Maya Morgenstern, missing an eye. Making my way to the museum of the Holocaust, housed in what my guidebook said was the resplendent 1846 grand Synagogue, I found it choked and dwarfed by a monstrous semicircle of decayed communist era apartment buildings. I took some photographs and then took my mourning home, but not before noticing a row of French doors on one apartment building: most had been stifled with mortar or metal sheets, but one had survived; its metal grid recalled a menorah for me. I brushed my association away as far fetched and decided not to take a photo of it. The next morning I woke up with the thought of the metal menorah and decided I had to go photograph it at the cost of being slightly late to the archive. I thought Svetlana would approve. She always approved of detours, of flanerie, which came with Baudelarian and Benjaminian pedigree, two authors she had learned to love from her dissertation advisor at Harvard, Barbara Johnson.

So I left my room and what had to be a five-minute detour turned into a few hours […]

She makes Boym sound like a wonderful person to have known.

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