The Slovakian school frozen in time

November 12, 2009
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Some of the remarkable pictures of the crumbling Slovakian classroom papers, abandoned in 1943

Some of the remarkable pictures of the crumbling Slovakian classroom papers, abandoned in 1943

A heartbreaking evocation of the day time stood still in Slovakia is now on show in Cambridge.

Last Folio is a set of portraits of decaying books, notebooks and essays, discovered in an abandoned Jewish school in eastern Slovakia by photographer Yuri Dojc.

He found these poignant symbols by chance. One dark day in 1943, all those attending the school were taken away to the concentration camps.

The school books are still there, essay notebooks with corrections, school reports, and remarkably enough a book once owned by Yuri’s grandfather Jakub.

The books still tell a story, despite every page disintegrating as it is touched.

But the story is of neglect and destruction. Dojc treats each book as a survivor — “pictures of wisdom turning to dust.”

The pictures are on show in the Lower Library of Cambridge’s Gonville and Caius College, and the exhibition, put together by Daniel Weil from design agency Pentagram, is part of an extensive project on the extinguishing of Jewish life in Slovakia.

A documentary film has been made by Yuri Dojc and film-maker Katya Krausova. It follows the journey of the photographer through Slovakia and aims to preserve Holocaust memory through filmed survivor testimonies and photographic documentation of places and fragments including the school books.

‘Last Folio’ runs until November 27

    Last updated: 5:28pm, November 12 2009