New Work: ‘Last Folio’ at the Museum of Jewish Heritage
Yuri Dojc’s haunting photographs document what remains of the once-vibrant Jewish culture of prewar Slovakia: ruined synagogues, destroyed sacred texts, decaying graveyards. Weil designed the exhibition as both a celebration and a memorial. As he puts it, the experience is intended to unfold, on a beautifully lit stage, as theatre—a play in which the visitor is not part of the audience, but is an actor.
The photographic documentation that Yuri Dojc has undertaken in the last five and a half years has brought him closer to the land of his birth and to his family heritage in an extraordinary and unexpected way. Dojc already has an established reputation in Canada and internationally, primarily for his exquisite nudes. With ‘Last Folio,’ Dojc’s keen eye now uncovers, as if by accident, the most extraordinary and meaningful details that tell a dramatic and moving story of life interrupted. Weil, who worked with Dojc on an earlier exhibition at Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge, created an entirely new setting for this very different space.
The exhibition’s perimeter of skeletal structures, with architectural scale images in the background and the intimacy of close shots of objects and their details in the foreground, evocatively represents the fragmented evidence of Jewish life in Slovakia before the Holocaust.
In the centre, a lantern, a symbol of “eternal light” (ner tamid), displays photographs of the Yeshivah in Bardejov, the centre of religious life and education. Its six-sided form echoes the vaulted space created by the Museum’s designers, Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates. More importantly, it is a symbol of continuity disrupted in 1942 by the deportation of Slovakia’s inhabitants to concentration camps. The lantern, like a spiral, provides an experience of permanent energy and permanent life.
A short excerpt from the documentary ‘Last Folio’, created by Dojc with Katya Krausova, animates the photographs in display, revealing the process of photographing and documenting the sites.
The conversations and portraits of the survivors carry the twin emotions of despair and hope.
Rarely is there an opportunity for a designer to work so intimately with such depth of subject. Daniel Weil has been very proud to have collaborated with Yuri Dojc and Katya Krausova on this project, and hopes that you have the opportunity to experience ‘Last Folio’, which is on view through late summer 2011.