Yuri Dojc exhibits in Košice

(The Slovak Spectator; 23/2013; 17/06/2013; s.: 15; Redakcia ; Zaradenie: CULTURE)

YURI Dojc, a renowned SlovakCanadian photographer, has been engaged in a long-term project that delves into the past, bringing to life items that were were abandoned long ago by people who perished. The most recent stage of the project, called Last Folio, focuses on the Jewish community in eastern Slovakia and is installed in a fitting location: the old “Small Synagogue”in Košice. “Košice … is playing host to all aspects of culture in the region – once the far-eastern hub of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where Poles, Hungarians, Slovaks, Ukrainians and Jews co-existed in a truly multicultural space,” a press release accompanying the exhibition states about this eastern-Slovak city. However, time and the changing regimes took their toll on both the people and the cultural heritage. Košice is hosting the 2013 European Capital of Culture (ECOC), and has been known for its multiculturalism and wide range of ethnic, social and cultural influences for centuries. Dojc, born in eastern Slovakia, emigrated after the suppression of the “Prague Spring” in 1968, and settled in Toronto, where he has since become an internationally acclaimed photographer, exhibiting in numerous countries worldwide, and publishing his photos in books. His current exhibition depicts Jews, the victims of another totalitarian regime, and the unspeakable tragedy which swept across almost all of Europe, the Holocaust. The photographs show disintegrating books in Hebrew, silent relics of what was once a thriving community in Slovakia. By coincidence, Dojc and a documentary film crew came across an abandoned Jewish school in eastern Slovakia, “where time had stood still since the day in 1942 when all those attending it were taken away to the [concentration] camps…”, the catalogue says. “These decaying books lying on dusty shelves; the last witnesses of a once thriving culture, are treated by Yuri Dojc as the individual survivors that they are – each book captured as in a portrait, preserved in their final beauty, pictures speaking a thousand words.” Among these books and fragments photographed by Dojc, one in particular stands out: a book that miraculously found its way from a dusty pile to its rightful heir – it was once owned by Dojc’s grandfather Jakub. “And so a journey which began with the portrait of his father came full circle”, reads the catalogue. This project, which has lasted for more than a decade, was first presented in the Slovak National Museum in Bratislava in 2009. In 2011, it opened in New York, and later other cities in the US and Canada followed. The exhibition Last Folio – The Tales of Yuri’s Pictures opened in Košice’s oldest synagogue, at Zvonárska 7, on June 11 and can be seen until August 28.


Compiled by Spectator staff

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