American Dreams

Yuri Dojc


Following his immigration from a Russian-controlled Czechoslovakia to Toronto in the late 1960s, Yuri Dojc unpacked his imaginings of the West into the photographic series American Dreams. Now owned by the National Gallery of Canada, the images originated in the mind of an Eastern European youth, one who sought to reconcile his dreams with reality. Through surreal tableaux fabricated in the artist’s studio using plastic toys and other found, kitsch objects, Dojc depicts an America that surges in the dreams of many immigrants—one that’s dangerously hard to realize. When asked by a journalist why he didn’t settle in the United States, Dojc replied, “Then I will have nothing to dream about.” While Dojc travels widely to exhibit internationally, he continues to return to his perch in Toronto where he can peer over the border at his subject. However, it’s one he doesn’t claim as his own. His are fantasies that “tremble before monsters” and have been transformed into images that contrast humorous, playful qualities with an underlying sense of unease. Their origin story is one of someone on the outside, conjuring an image of something one should be fearful to want.