Last Folio: Textures of Jewish Life in Slovakia is a powerful witness of Jewish life in Slovakia through images and text. At his father’s funeral in 1997, photographer Yuri Dojc met Ruzena Vajnorska, a Slovakian Holocaust survivor who had been on the very first train to Auschwitz. She was in the habit of visiting other local survivors, and Dujc began to join her on these visits. What developed was a long-term project of photographing Holocaust survivors and cultural remains in Slovakia. While making Last Folio, Dujc and Krausova each made, by chance, very personal connections with their own family histories.
Dojc’s images beautifully commemorate the history of the Jewish people and culture of Slovakia. Last Folio features compelling images of Holocaust survivors, ruins of schools and synagogues, and abandoned school books left untouched since its young owners were deported in October 1942. The texts by Katya Krausova, Azar Nafisi, and Lucia Faltin provide meaningful context, and the subject matter is treated with deep respect and sensitivity.
Last Folio is a thoughtful meditation on Slovakian Jewish life, and I found the poetic images of abandoned books to be particularly powerful. Last Folio would be moving anytime, but I think it is particularly conducive for reflection this coming month since April is considered Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month by many organizations because significant dates related to five 20th-century genocides fall in April.