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The traveling exhibition “Last Folio” officially opened at UNIBES Cultural in São Paulo on Thursday evening in the presence of the artists as well as invited guests from business, culture and the media. Bertelsmann, the international media, services and education company, has brought the internationally acclaimed exhibition to Latin America for the first time. São Paulo was chosen as the venue because Brazil is one of the company’s key geographic growth markets.
The “Last Folio” exhibition has already been on view in several countries – Germany, the U.S., Britain, Russia, Slovakia and Italy – as well as at the European Commission in Brussels and the U.N. in New York. But never before has the exhibition been presented in a space as large as at the UNIBES Cultural Center in São Paulo, whose spectacular architecture provides the perfect stage for the exhibits. “Last Folio” opens its doors to the public starting today and runs until October 22. Admission is free.
The exhibition shows 66 unique pictures by the photographer Yuri Dojc, who tracked down and artistically captured possibly the last testimonies to historic Jewish culture in Slovakia with the filmmaker Katya Krausova: abandoned buildings, religious artifacts and books, which were being read, taught and prayed from, right up to the time of the mass deportations to the Nazi extermination camps.
Speaking at the opening, Bertelsmann Chairman & CEO Thomas Rabe declared: “Bertelsmann is proud to bring a widely acclaimed international exhibition of this quality to South America for the first time. I am delighted to be in Brazil for the opening. This country is an important growth market in which we want to play a greater role both in its business sector and in its society.” This is shown in increased investment as well as cultural engagement, said Rabe. “As a media company with a history spanning more than 180 years, it is important to us to preserve valuable cultural assets and make them accessible to a wide audience.” The “Last Folio” exhibition also conveys important historical messages and, beyond that, demonstrates the power of books to transcend generations, said Rabe.
Bertelsmann has had operations in Brazil for 40 years and is now gradually expanding its presence in the South American country. Having been active in publishing since its establishment in 1835, today Bertelsmann’s divisions include the world’s leading trade book publishing group, Penguin Random House, which owns a stake in the Brazilian publishing company Companhia das Letras. The Group also operates services businesses (Arvato), TV production (Fremantle Media), music rights management (BMG), and a magazine publisher (Motor Press Brazil) in the country. Its focus is currently on fund and direct investments in the fast-growing education sector in Brazil. In 2012, Bertelsmann opened a Corporate Center in São Paulo to further accelerate the expansion of its businesses. The new Corporate Center is also coordinating the presentation of the “Last Folio” exhibition in Brazil.
The core of the exhibition is formed by 66 artistic photographs and pictures of contemporary witnesses, for which Yuri Dojc and Katya Krausova, having both emigrated from Czechoslovakia in 1968, repeatedly returned to their former starting in 2005. They found places where, until recently, everything was still exactly as it had been left in 1942 at the time of the deportations. On these trips Dojc took photographs of exceptional aesthetic quality. They show, for example, ruined books and documents that represent, as it were, the people who never came back. The objects give an idea of the Jewish world that was destroyed in Slovakia and exhort us to draw lessons from what happened and to keep the memories alive. A short documentary film by Katya Krausova shows key moments from the encounters and the work done on the ground.
Katya Krausova remembers the moment when she first encountered the motifs that were later photographed for the “Last Folio” exhibition: “We were in Slovakia to conduct interviews with Holocaust survivors when a Protestant church warden suddenly approached us and wanted to show us something. It was a building which seemed to have been frozen in time since 1942 – a community school. The books were still on the shelves, the two long benches and desks at the top end of the room were empty. And on the walls, we discovered inscriptions in Hebrew.”
“Last Folio – Preservando Memórias”
Opening: August 18, 2016, Duration: two months (until October 22, 2016)
Venue: Unibes Cultural, Rua Oscar Freire, 2500 – Sumaré, São Paulo – SP, 01426-001
Hours: daily (except Sunday) 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. (doors close at 6 p.m.). Admission is free
More information, along with videos and pictures, can be found on our website at: http://www.bertelsmann.com/news-and-media/specials/last-folio/#st-1
Bertelsmann is a media, services and education company that operates in about 50 countries around the world. It includes the broadcaster RTL Group, the trade book publisher Penguin Random House, the magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr, the music company BMG, the service provider Arvato, the Bertelsmann Printing Group, the Bertelsmann Education Group, and Bertelsmann Investments, an international network of funds. The company has 117,000 employees and generated revenues of €17.1 billion in the 2015 financial year. Bertelsmann stands for creativity and entrepreneurship. This combination promotes first-class media content and innovative service solutions that inspire customers around the world.