New Work: ‘Last Folio’
Daniel Weil has designed an exhibition entitled Last Folio, which runs from 10 – 27 November 2009 in the Lower Library at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.
Last Folio is a set of portraits taken since March 2006 of decaying books, pictures of wisdom turning to dust. Photographer Yuri Dojc found these poignant symbols by chance in an abandoned Cheder in Bardejov in the east of Slovakia, where time has stood still since the day in 1943 when all those attending the school were taken away to concentration camps. The schoolbooks are still there: essay notebooks with corrections, school reports, and remarkably enough, a book once owned by Yuri’s grandfather, Jakub. The books still tell a story, despite every page disintegrating as it is touched. But the story is of neglect and destruction, and Dojc treats each book as a survivor, every one captured as a portrait.
The challenge for Weil was to design an exhibition specific to this most appropriate of venues, a library. This part of the project highlights the contrast of destinies between these books and those housed in the College Library. He has created a series of virtual spaces which replicate bookcases in which each image is housed. The structure of these “ghost” cases is deliberately modest and vulnerable, contrasting with the venerable setting. Each has a translucent mesh behind it allowing the viewer to see through the image to the robust and grand cases behind, thus heightening the contrast. At the far end of the library is a massive image of the abandoned synagogue in Kosice.
This exhibition is one element of an extensive project on the extinguishing of Jewish life in Slovakia. A documentary film has been made by Yuri Dojc and filmmaker Katya Krausova. It follows the journey of the photographer through Slovakia and aims to preserve Holocaust memory through filmed survivor testimonies and photographic documentation of places and fragments including the schoolbooks.