Finnish & Jewish
In January 2006 I began photographing the members of the small Jewish community in Finland. In addition to being a visual record, the images function as a sociological document exploring how Finnish Jews live, work and practice their religious traditions.
How does Judaism survive in a country where there are only two synagogues? In a nation of 5.3 million people, how do 1,500 Jews maintain their cultural identity; how do they have a voice?
This project is of personal significance. My mother was born in Finland and moved to Minnesota as a child in 1947. Almost thirty years later, when she married my father she converted to Judaism. What does it mean that my blood is both Finnish and Jewish?
With these pictures, I am investigating the ways photography contributes to the construction of identity and community. Today’s society is increasingly complex and multi-cultural. As our heritages blend, our identities are no longer definable by a generic social stereotype of community, but by our unique experiences and backgrounds. Photography has an intrinsic ability to record details. I am employing it to record cultural signifiers and traditions as they blend, as well as to depict physical characteristics of a hybridized community.
Dina Kantor is a photographer and teacher based in Brooklyn. Her work has been exhibited nationwide and is included in private and public collections such as the Jewish Museum in New York. In 2007, she was named to Heeb Magazine’s Heeb 100 list, as well as being included in PDN’s Photo Annual. She has received grants from both the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Finlandia Foundation National.
Dina grew up in Minneapolis, where she began her photography career at the City Pages. She received her MFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in 2007, and her BA in journalism and studio arts from the University of Minnesota.
Currently, Dina teaches at The International Center of Photography, Adelphi University, and at a private high school in New York City. She is working on a series documenting the Jewish community in Finland, entitled Finnish and Jewish. www.dinakantor.com.