What Yuri Dojc, the photographer, and Katya Krausova, the cinematographer, have in common, is to have both left Czechoslovakia in 1968 when Russian tanks invaded Prague. They met when revisiting their Jewish past in Slovakia and, between 2006 and 2013, they followed, each with a camera, the few surviving Jews who had come back from Auschwitz. This « Last Folio », as the exhibition at Galerie Karsten Greve in Paris is called, is based on an abandoned school in Bardejov, Slovakia. The show is a pure splendor and includes a documentary, shot by Katya.
Yuri and Katya were interviewing Jewish survivors in homes and shooting abandoned synagogues and cemeteries, where frozen books could be seen half buried in the ground. When a protestant church warden approached them on the main square of Bardejov, a medieval Slovak city listed by UNESCO, and invited them into a Jewish school, left untouched since all the 3 600 Jews of the city were deported to Auschwitz in March 1942. He had been given the key by the one Jew who returned and had since died. Books were partly preserved by the dry atmosphere and were covered with cobwebs. The remaining decor, discreetly lit by a window is impressive. And Yuri started shooting… everything.
The result is an intense series of photographs, partly reportage, mostly artworks, which are strikingly efficient. A little colour is left on some of the books, the abandoned walls are reminiscent of paintings more than of photographs. The pictures are fascinating and what they portray is both very dark and very luminous. Katya’s camera has recorded Yuri’s shooting a camp survivor celebrating her hundredth birthday, and many other ladies as well as houses and villages where his own parents had been hiding.
I was stunned by their talent and the energy they put into showing these pictures in 16 different countries in the last two years, mostly in universities. The German galerist Karsten Greve is the first one to give them a private show and photographs are for sale in three different sizes (from 6 000$ to 18 000$).
Yuri has worked in advertising in Toronto where he now resides, and shows perfectly constructed pictures with a painter’s flair. Katya, who has interviewed the greatest musicians for the BBC in London where she lives, has produced this amazing show of 32 photographs and realized the film. There are hundred more pictures waiting to be seen…
I cannot encourage you enough to go and have a look at this very special show which is historically moving and artistically rewarding. (Galerie Karsten Greve, 5 rue Debelleyme, Paris 3 until February 28)
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