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Yuri Dojc


Last Folio
January 28 - February 28, 2017
Opening: Saturday, January 28, 2017, 6 - 8 pm
in the presence of the artist
The Galerie Karsten Greve Paris is pleased to present, for the first time in France, the project of the Czechoslovakian-born artist and photographer Yuri Dojc, Last Folio: A Photographic Journey with Yuri Dojc.
Serendipity led him, his producer Katya Krausova and their documentary film team to an abandoned Jewish school in Eastern Slovakia, where time had stood still since the day in 1942 when all those attending it were deported to the concentration camps…the school books were there still, essay notebooks with corrections, school reports, birth certificates, school accounts, even sugar still in the kitchen cupboard… all decaying on dusty shelves, the final witnesses to a once thriving culture.
These abandoned, disintegrating books are treated by Yuri Dojc like the survivors that they each are - every one captured as a portrait, preserved in their final beauty, pictures speaking a thousand words.  Now, years later, his own search, which started with portraits of survivors following his father's death, is transformed into a remarkable photographic narrative. Amongst these many hundreds of books and fragments photographed by Yuri, one stands out especially - one which miraculously found its way from a dusty pile to its rightful heir - a book once owned by Yuri’s grandfather Jakab. Dojc, encountered a Holocaust survivor at his father’s funeral in 1997. Their meeting resulted in his decision to take photographs of the Slovakian survivors, before it was too late. In his journey across the country he took more than one hundred and fifty portraits recording their stories and their faces. On his travels he also happened upon objects and buildings that once belonged to the Jewish community. Moved by their beauty despite their state of ruin, he decided to find and photograph additional evidence of the lost community. He followed in the path detailed in his father’s book on the country’s Jewish heritage and began the project that would become Last Folio. Dojc said, “We all strive to leave something behind, a mark that remains after we’ve left. But there is almost nothing left of the people whose lives were cut short during the Holocaust. Photography allows me to build a private memorial to them. It is through these photos that I can pay homage to them and keep their memory alive. I can only hope that my images will speak to the visitors to this exhibition.”
According to Krausova, “Yuri and I travelled many roads to small towns and tiny hamlets all over the country, meeting people and finding remnants of lives and fragments of memories. Retracing the experiences of our families, and the worlds in which they lived and died, has been an enormously powerful journey that has been emotional, spiritual, and deeply personal.” At the centerpiece of Last Folio are photographs of the books Dojc found in a Jewish school in Bardejov. These books are the last witnesses to a once thriving culture. The images in the exhibition capture the poignant ruins of schools, synagogues, and cemeteries. Last Folio charts a personal journey in cultural memory - a reflection on the universal loss, as a part of the European remembrance.
Last Folio has been travelling as an art installation combining an exhibition of selected photographs a documentary film, and a book in a number of countries on both sides of the Atlantic. Twelve of the images are now part of the permanent collection of the Library of Congress in Washington. In 2015 Last Folio has been part of the worldwide commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the exhibition was held in the United Nations in New York, in the National Library of Germany in Berlin, the Mark Rothko Museum in Latvia in the New Museum of Tolerance in Moscow and the Art Gallery of Tufts University in the USA.
Yuri Dojc left Czechoslovakia in 1968 when Soviet tanks rolled into Prague. He settled in Toronto, where he embarked on a four-decade journey from refugee to internationally acclaimed photographer. His work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada and the Slovak National Museum. The Library of Congress in Washington recently acquired a number of selections for its photography collection. In 2001 he received the Medal of Honor from the Slovak Ambassador to the United States for We Endured, a series of portraits of Slovak Holocaust survivors. Dojc has been profiled in dozens of magazines around the world, including Communication Arts, Applied Arts and Creativity, and he has been the subject of feature stories on both Apple and Microsoft’s websites. A journey to Rwanda resulted in a double-page spread in the French daily Libération. In 2010 Dojc published his sixth solo book, Honour, which pays homage to Canadian World War II veterans, and a retrospective of his work was exhibited at Bratislava’s Mirbach Palace. Dojc’s Last Folio exhibition opened at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City in March 2011. It had since been seen in numerous other venues.
Katya Krausova is an independent television producer/director whose work has been broadcast on national television channels and screened at prestigious film festivals around the world. She arrived in Britain following the 1968 Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. She is a director of a leading UK independent film and television production company called Portobello Media and Portobello Pictures, which won the 1997 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for Kolya.
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