Jiri Ladocha in his studio 2019

Super 8 film transferred to HD
4 min
camera: Marcus Elliott

I met Jiri Ladocha in December 2018 at his home, steps away from my last apartment in Toronto.  As we sat over a cup of tea, getting to know each other, one of the first things Jiri told me was that he was born and spent the first two years of his life in Terezin/Theresienstadt – the “model ghetto”/concentration camp used by the Nazis as a tool of propaganda.  I managed not to get emotional until after I left the house.  But my emotion was mixed with elation because the real story of Jiri is that his early days do not define him.  Despite being marked by this horrifying beginning (and others we don’t have time to discuss now) he has moved through a rich life on his own terms as an artist, husband, father and grandfather. I may be projecting my own feelings when I write that, along with his family, his steady and playful labour in the studio has sustained him and enriched the lives of those who have come to know him.  This portrait, shot on Super 8 film, is a brief glimpse into his studio.  It shows his ageing, discerning body continuing to create, with just a hint of mischief.

—Laura Taler

commissioned by Gallery 17/18 and the Czech Embassy in Canada

Thank you to Veronika Holcová and Pavel Hrnčíř