Tell me her story because war is only the half of it.

Working with portraiture and documentary photography, Dorothée Nowak is mainly interested by the subject of displacement and explores the concept of migration. After meeting with members of the Polish community in Montreal, Nowak starts to demonstrate greater interest in her own family’s immigration heritage. Tell me her story because war is only the half of it is a documentary project based on her father’s family immigration history from Poland to France in 1938.

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The project focuses on the journey her grandmother, Teresa, began with her family when she was only 11 years old. Born in 1927, she was raised in Ostrow Wielkopolski (Poland) which was in the territories of the Republic of Germany. Her family left on the eve of the Second World War by train, and arrived first in Belgium before establishing themselves in the north of France. In December 2016, Nowak went to Europe and traveled to Poland, Belgium, and France in order to find out more about her polish roots. In Ostrow Wielkopolskki, she researches traces of family member in the National Archives where she was able to know more about Teresa’s father, Stanislaw.

Jozefa, Teresa’s mother, remains a mystery as no traces of her were found. The only thing known about Jozefa is that she was a single child living in Krempe, a neighborhood near Ostrow Wielkopolski’s center. This area was destroyed during the war. Nothing concrete emerged from the research in Europe. Yet, the idea that Teresa’s mother was from a Jewish family is growing as Nowak found out that her last child’s name was Salomea. Although, it is only a couple of months ago that she discovered that her aunt’s first name was, in reality, Salomea. Salomea comes from the Hebrew “Shalom” and means “peace.”

Tell me her story because war is only the half of it is about Nowak’s quest in order to find out more about her roots. It focuses on the portrait of her family’s members, people who knew Teresa and others who did not. It mixes as well places she visited last December and archives from her father’s collection as well as documentation from the Museum of Ostrow Wielkopolski. The project is a combination of a non-linear sequencing mixing past, present, and future of a family whose descendants escaped their homeland on the eve of the Second World War. It raises the question of the post-memory as well as it echoes current events of the contemporary immigration crisis in Europe.

About the author:
Born in 1982 in France, Dorothée Nowak is a documentary photograher currently based in Montreal, Quebec. After studying Visual Arts at Valenciennes University, she received in 2017 a BFA in Photography with Distinction from Concordia University.
Her work has been featured in several collective exhibitions in Canada, and has been published both printed and online.

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