It Was Once My Universe
Curated by Sonia Voss
It Was Once My Universe is the autobiographical story of a homecoming. Returning from New York to her native Mikulov, a Czech village in South Moravia, and to her family’s farm after a decade of absence, Tomanova documents her reunion with loved ones. And yet a disquieting strangeness dominates the atmosphere. The house she missed so much—reminisced about, fantasized, took imaginary refuge in during the most difficult moments of exile—has become an unfamiliar frame, disjointed, in which she no longer has a place. She experiences all the more forcefully the feelings of disorientation and loss of identity, closely tied to her uprooting, because they now inform the “homecoming” she has so long looked forward to. This series extends the artist’s exploration of the genre of the self-portrait. The camera’s date stamp reminds us of time, the moment when the photograph was taken, which, given so precisely here, contrasts sharply with the murky time of memory.
Curator: SONIA VOSS
Born in 1978, Paris, France. Lives and works in Paris and Berlin, Germany.
Sonia Voss is an author and exhibition curator. She has presented among others: "Isabelle Le Minh: Real Crystal" (Goethe Institut Paris & Alfred Ehrhardt Foundation Berlin, 2019-20), "Impatient Corps: East German Photography 1980-89" (Rencontres d'Arles, 2019), "Alfred Ehrhardt: The Forms of Nature" (Kyotography, 2019), as well as two exhibitions at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris: "Sophie Calle, Serena Carone: Beau doublé, Monsieur le marquis!" (2017-18) and "George Shiras: Inside the Night" (2016-17). She also accompanied Anton Roland Laub, nominated with Mobile Churches for the New Discovery Prize in 2018. She has edited books for Xavier Barral, Koenig Books, Filigranes and Kehrer.
Artist: MARIE TOMANOVA
Born 1984 in Valtice, Czech Republic. Lives and works in New York, United States.
Originally from South Moravia on the border of the Czech Republic and Austria, Marie Tomanova joined the United States in 2011, after obtaining a master's degree in painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Technology in Brno. She then turned to photography and began to explore themes of displacement, identity and memory. Her Young American series, bringing together portraits of the young New York art scene, was the subject in 2019 of an exhibition at the Pragovka gallery and a publication at Paradigm Publishing. Her second book, New York New York, is published in the summer of 2021 by Hatje Cantz.
Marie Tomanova, In Dad’s Sweater (All That is Left), From It Was Once My Universe series, 2018–2019. Archival pigment print, 31cm x 21cm. Courtesy of the artist.
Marie Tomanova, Sphinxes, From It Was Once My Universe series, 2018–2019. Archival pigment print, 31cm x 21cm. Courtesy of the artist.
Marie Tomanova, Chairs (Mom and Willy), From It Was Once My Universe series, 2018–2019. Archival pigment print, 31cm x 21cm. Courtesy of the artist.