Acclaimed photo display to pay homage to memory of Slovakian Jewish community

The display will feature photographs of decaying books from a poignant day in 1942. Photo: Yuri Dojc., 22 Sep 2017 - 18:34, Tbilisi,Georgia

A photographic story of a dark chapter of European history will be presented to museum-goers in Tbilisi as part of the internationally acclaimed project Last Folio by photographer Yuri Dojc and producer Katya Krausova.

Following displays at major venues in Europe and the North America over the last seven years, photographs by Dojc will be exhibited in Georgia's capital to portray a small Jewish school abandoned in Slovakia's east.

The exhibits will show decaying books found at the once thriving school by the Slovakian-Canadian photographer and Krausova while working on a documentary film.

A photograph of a book found at the abandoned school by Dojc and Krausova. Photo: Yuri Dojc.

Deported to a Nazi concentration camp after occupying forces arrived one day in 1942, those who once studied at the place left behind school items at the abandoned venue.

[T]he 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", says the summary by authors of the project.

The installation arranging the photographs illustrating the theme. Photo: Yuri Dojc.

The items left in the school included something of personal significance for Dojc — a book that once belonged to his grandfather.

The experience was since transformed by the two authors into an installation bringing together select photographs illustrating the place and a documentary.

Under the title Last Folio the display has toured over a dozen high-profile museum venues, galleries and libraries around the world since its maiden presentation at the Slovak National Museum in Bratislava in 2008.

It was seen by visitors at the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Hall in Washington, the United Nations in New York and the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma in Rome, among other places.

Photographs from the project were exhibited at the Karsten Greve Galerie in Paris this year. Photo: Yuri Dojc.

The range of prestigious venues that have hosted the installation pay tribute to the poignancy of the project while also honouring artistic work by Dojc, who has achieved international recognition as photographer since moving to reside in Toronto in his youth.

His move followed the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet armed forces poised to quash the democratic reforms initiated in the Soviet republic that spring. The incident saw Dojc, on a study spell in London at the time, become a political refugee overnight.

Since his move to Canada Dojc has worked in both commercial photography and artistic documentation of lives and stories of people ranging from Holocaust survivors to World War II veterans.

Last Folio will go on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, a member of the Georgian National Museum network, starting next Monday.

Located on Lado Gudiashvili Street in Georgia's capital, the venue will host visitors for the exhibition through October 25.