In American Dreams Yuri Dojc recalls his fantasies about America from when he was growing up and living in Czechoslovakia. His vibrant photographs, created after his arrival in Canada, are combinations of found and purchased objects that both recollect and release his longings for North American culture.
Eye-catching compositions demonstrate how Dojc’s advertising background enabled him to create visually appealing compositions, while also generating a method of release for his childhood visions of a different, far away land and culture. Dojc manipulates space in an interesting way in “The Kingdom,” where all components come together between palm trees and women on the left (a representation of the west coast), and taxi cabs on the right (as visual cues of the east coast). Throughout the composition, tiny plastic objects stand beside, hang above, and rest on a large Elvis Presley statue, which Dojc adored. Dojc was deeply surprised when he realized, upon his arrival in North America, that many of the Czech pop songs on Radio Luxemburg copied Elvis Presley’s.
Dojc takes the “kitsch” of the American pop culture and familiar plastic objects and transforms them into images that represent both his memories and personal life. He describes the former Czechoslovakia as “a very restrictive society,” as pictured in “Globalization” – depicting a “society swallowed by the communist system.”
Yuri Dojc, Globalization, 1988-89, Archival pigment print, 24″ x 36″ . Courtesy of the artist and Darren Gallery
Dojc stated that his compositions came into existence from an inner guidance of “what feels right.” The method of creating his works by staging objects, already hints at the idea of material culture. In combination with visual cues of popular culture, Dojc’s works provide an interesting perspective on American culture and the idea of freedom and abundance that accompanies the “American dream.”
Yuri Dojc, Ascending to Heaven, Ink Jet Print on Aluminum, 30″ x 40″. Courtesy of the artist and Darren Gallery
However, the “American dream” theme, demonstrated in this show, is shared by many new comers to Canada, and similarly recalled by many first-generation Canadians in their stories. Dojc’s work is representative of contemporary Canadian art that is inspired by the interaction between diverse cultures that exist simultaneously.
American Dreams is a part of Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and on display until May 28th. Darren Gallery was opened in 2014 to provide a platform for “experimental and daring” work produced by “bright and innovative contemporary artists” in Canada. Although the gallery is focused in providing a space in Toronto to exhibit creative and enticing shows, Darren Gallery also aims to foster relationships with artists and galleries internationally to expand opportunities for Canadian artists.
*Exhibition information: May 5 – 28, 2017, Darren Gallery, 346 Margueretta Street, Toronto. Gallery hours: Thur – Sun 12 – 6 pm.