Outstanding Canadians who are shaping the world we live in: Yuri Dojc. Internationally acclaimed photographer.

Outstanding Canadians

by Alan Simons

YURI DOJC CJNonline Main 002

Yuri Dojc

TORONTO, April 5/22 – It has been written that when a person dies, his or her spirit lives in those who remember. Our tradition is very specific in providing us with ways of remembering our loved ones. In addition, our tradition does not allow us to forget those who have died.

And so it is with Yuri Dojc’s brilliant Last Folio exhibition. He is best known for his observational approach to the past, with its alloy of subjectivities, empathy, and intimacy. 

“As an artist, I feel fortunate to be able to express myself through these photos, and to be able to bring the past to the present,” said Yuri Dojc, in a TIME Magazine interview.

Last Folio, one of Dojc’s foremost photography exhibitions, remains as evidence of the once-vibrant Jewish communities living throughout Slovakia. It serves as a fitting tribute to a remarkable history in this part of Europe, where on the eve of World War II, many of its villagers had fled and those Jews remaining were soon taken away to concentration camps.

YURI DOJC Last Folio on Vimeo 002 - https___vimeo.com_20779058

>>> Click HERE to watch this video <<<

Last Folio has toured the world as an art installation and been the subject of a PBS News Hour story, “Seeing Holocaust survivors’ stories in the books they left behind.”

“Books in these photographs are not mere objects, they are possessed by spirits exorcized through Yuri Dojc’s magical eye,” writes Azar Nafisi, the author of the book “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” said in The New Yorker

Random House’s Prestel division has published Last Folio: A Photographic Memory a book of Dojc’s photos of books.

Dojc’s work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Slovak National Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the National Library in Berlin, and the Art Gallery of Tufts University in Boston. Twelve of his images are part of the permanent collection of the Library of Congress in Washington.

His works have also been exhibited at the United Nations in New York, the European Commission in Brussels, the National Museum of Brazil, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.

He has 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 and media around the world, including TIME Magazine, The New Yorker,  VISÃO, Communication Arts, Everything Zoomer, CBC, 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.

Born in Slovakia, Dojc resides in Toronto. His major exhibited works are regarded as an international success, with major exhibitions in cities including Rome, Milan, Berlin, Jerusalem, Moscow, New York, Sao Paulo, and in countries such as Slovakia, the UK, France, Germany, Austria, Panama, Latvia, and across Canada. Earlier this year Last Folio was shown in Lisbon and currently, it is in Copenhagen.

Amongst the many hundreds of books and fragments photographed by Dojc, one stands out particularly, one which miraculously found its way from a dusty pile to its rightful heir – a book once owned by Dojc’s grandfather Jakab.

Since the late 1990s, Dojc has been documenting Slovakia’s last living Holocaust survivors and the country’s abandoned synagogues, schools, and cemeteries. A feature-length documentary by filmmaker Katya Krausova, a Producer of the Last Folio project, originally premiered in Toronto and is now being screened worldwide.  

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A Video Introduction to the “Last Folio” Project

>>> Click HERE to watch this video <<<

Dojc’s most recent series, North is Freedom: The Legacy of the Underground Railroad, is a photographic essay that includes portraits of descendants of slaves who escaped to Canada from the United States before the American Civil War using the Underground Railroad. These Canadians are attuned to their histories and proud of their ancestors’ courage.

YURI DOJC 002 Photo exhibit examines Canadian descend cbc.ca_news_canada_winds

Fred Johnson’s grandfather was a fugitive slave who came to Canada through the Underground Railroad (Yuri Dojc/Provided)

North Is Freedom’s first exhibition was at the Canadian embassy to the United States in Washington D.C., as well as at the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture. 

But the story doesn’t end there.

A lasting legacy commemorating Canada’s World War II veterans.

Honour. Inspired by the 2010 death of Canada’s last WWI Veteran, Dojc felt compelled to better understand who these individual soldiers were. He began taking photos of veterans in partnership with a long-term care and retired residence company resulting in a book being published. The book Honour is a reflective telling of their war experiences from a deeply personal perspective.

YURI DOJC HONOUR Documentary 002

>>> Click HERE to watch this video <<<

Dojc adds, “It was evident early in the project that we were not just photographing people, we were capturing history.”

As in so much of his work, Dojc illustrates the power of art to convey a narrative that continues to touch us here, now, and into the future.

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Credits: Photo, Yuri Dojc, copyright by the artist; chartwell.com; cbc.ca; vimeo.com; pbs.org; yuridojc.com; Bertelsmann/YouTube

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