The photographs in It Was Once My Universe were created between December 16, 2018 and January 5, 2019 during Marie Tomanova’s first return home in over eight long years to her family farm in South Moravia, Czech Republic. It was not her choice to stay away from home for so long, but she could not return. And for her, it hurt to be away.
After graduating with an MFA in painting, Tomanova moved to the United States in 2011 and began to use photography as a means to work through her feelings of displacement living there. During this time in the United States, when things were difficult, she relived and idealized home in her mind, so when she actually went back to the Czech Republic in the winter of 2018, she was unprepared for the deep confusion and conflict she found in herself being home. During this time away, she felt she had become alien, and yet she still belonged. It was home, but so was New York City. John Berger writes, “To emigrate is always to dismantle the center of the world, and so to move into a lost, disoriented one of fragments.” It Was Once My Universe is about that. It is about contradictory feelings and disorientation. It is about home, family, memory, distance, and time.
Foreword by Lucy Sante
Texts by Thomas Beachdel, Marie Tomanova