Photo Exhibits “Two Edges of a Lifespan” by Kristen Dobbin and Toomas Volkmann at VEMU

April 30, 2018

Presenting the perspectives on Estonian identity in Toronto’s diaspora community. Kristen Dobbin observes Jõekääru’s campers; Toomas Volkmann those born in Estonian between 1918 and 1923.

The photographer and curator of the first exhibit is the young Canadian-Estonian anthropologist and photographer Kristen Dobbin. In the summer of 2017, Kristen photographed the children and youth who attended the summer camp Jõekääru located in Ontario. At Jõekääru, Estonian children from Canada, the USA, and Estonian get together. This has been one of the environments for Canadian-Estonian children to learn the language and culture of Estonia for 65 years. Kristen has a personal connection to the camp: her grandmother was the camp cook for many years, but since Kristen doesn’t speak Estonian, she couldn’t attend the camp. Now, times have changed, and children with weaker Estonian or those who don’t speak Estonia at all are all welcome. The photos that capture Jõekääru’s 65th anniversary reflect the persistence of the summer camp’s traditions as well as the changes that have taken place in camp life.

The second exhibit tells the story of Toronto Estonians who are the same age as the Republic of Estonia. The photographer Toomas Volkmann captured the portraits of Toronto Estonians ages 95-100, primarily living at the retirement home Ehatare, in September 2017. The exhibit displays the photos alongside texts compiled from interviews, which summarize each person’s life experience, advice for younger generations, and wishes for Estonia’s Centennial.

The exhibits will be on display at Tartu College in Toronto until May 20, 2018. The exhibits are one of ESC/VEMU’s many gifts to Estonia 100 and also part of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival program.