Community Identity

October 9, 2009

Alumnus Dina Kantor (MFA 2007 Photography, Video and Related Media) is heading westward to present her latest solo exhibition, “Finnish and Jewish,” at Portland, Oregon’s Blue Sky Gallery. The show is the culmination of a project that began in 2006, when Kantor began photographing members of Finland’s Jewish community—which consists of only 1,500 people and two synagogues across the entire country. “This project is of personal significance,” says Kantor. “My mother was born in Finland and moved to Minnesota as a child in 1947. Almost 30 years later, when she married my father, she converted to Judaism.”

FinnishJewish

The resulting images form a kind of sociological document of a group of people with lines of identity that do not always intersect easily. Kantor wanted to capture her subjects in a context that would help both her and the subjects come to a better understanding of how their nationality and religious backgrounds do and do not overlap. “I am investigating the ways photography contributes to the construction of identity and community,” she says, noting that the images are composed to “record cultural signifiers and traditions as they blend, as well as to depict physical characteristics of a hybridized community.” “Finnish and Jewish” is at Blue Sky Gallery through Sunday, November 1.

Images: Dina Kantor, Heli, Helsinki, 2007.

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