Dina Kantor grew up in Minneapolis to a Jewish father and a Finnish mother who had converted. Her Jewish and Finnish worlds were quite separate but, in 2006, she went to Finland to explore the Finnish Jewish communities of Helsinki and Turku. Originally treating it as part of her MFA program at the School of the Visual Arts in New York, Kantor became engrossed in the subject. No longer a snapshot of this tiny community (only 1,500 people from the Finnish population of 5 million), her ongoing project provides the audience with a portrait over time.
At first sight, showing the daily life of Finland’s Jewish community is secondary to the clean Scandinavian aesthetics of Kantor’s images. Nevertheless, on the closer inspection invited by the elegance and openness of the photographs, these intimate portraits suggest deeper stories which she shared with me recently.
Below, listen to our interview and view Kantor’s arresting photographs:
Kantor’s exhibition, Finnish and Jewish, is at the Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Ore. until November 1.
Dan Friedman is the executive editor of the Forward. But when he’s not doing that, he’s writing a book about the rock band Tears for Fears.