Yuri Dojc

A vernissage of photographs by Yuri Dojc, a significant person of the world photography scene, was organised in Levice Synagogue of 4 March 2022. The exhibition is formed by amazing photographs shot by Yuri Dojc from then lively Jewish communities all around Slovakia. Visitors of the vernissage could see also a short movie by Kata Krausová who follows Dojc in Slovakia. The vernissage was accompanied by pleasant music by Let It Sound, a band from Levice. The exhibition of photographs by the Slovak-Canadian photographer YURI DOJC – LAST FOLIO in the Levice Synagogue was opened to the public to 30 March 2022.

Yuri Dojc about his exhibition:

In January 1997, I met an interesting woman, Mrs. Vajnorská, at the funeral of my father. She was one of about one thousand girls that boarded the very first train heading to Oświęcim in the beginning of 1942. She spent three years there and had lost the whole family, except her brother. She told me about her daily visits at people who survived like her. I asked you if I could accompany her at her regular rounds. She agreed. So I started to photograph these people and the world where they lived.

August 1968. Soviet tanks occupies Czechoslovakia and Yuri’s statute of a summer stay student in London changes to a refugee statute overnight. A year later he comes to Toronto where he has been living until now.

Other forty years later, Yuri Dojc is an important person of the world photography scene. His lifelong art and commercial work has been winning significant recognition. His works with a wide range – from portraits of Canadian war veterans to city panoramas – have been regularly exhibited and published. Dojc’s latest pictures from Rwanda were shown in the French daily Libération under the dramatic title “Country of Genocide”.

By sheer chance, Yuri with the documentary film crew got to an abandoned Jewish school in the Eastern Slovakia. Time stopped here on one day in 1942 when all the pupils were dragged to concentration camps. Books, exercise books with essays with mistakes corrected, school reports were still there, even some sugar remained in a cabinet…

From those disintegrating books lying on dusty shelves like the last witnesses of then prospering culture, Yuri Dojc perceived each as an individual who survived. And each book, shot like a portrait, keeps its last beauty. A picture telling thousands words.

Out of hundreds of fragments and books photographed by Yuri Dojc, the attention is attracted by the destiny of the one which found, like a miracle, its way from the dusty pile to its heir – to Yuri. It was actually once owned by his grandfather Jakub. And thus the way of memory that started by a father’s portrait closed the circle.

This extensive project Yuri Dojc has been working on for more than ten years, and the exhibition is only one part of it, was presented to the public for the first time in 2009 in the Slovak National Museum in Bratislava, then in Prague and Cambridge, UK. It had a big success everywhere. From 2011, it has been presented in USA and Canada. The opening was in New York, then the exhibition moved to Bloomington, Indiana and to Ottawa. Other places in the United States are scheduled, too. In Europe, the exhibition was seen in Belgium at the European Commission in Brussels and in the Pierre Bergé Foundation. After Košice, European Capital of Culture 2013, it will go to Rome and Moscow.

Many pictures from this exhibition are already in the collection of the Congress Library in Washington.