Tatiana Fiodorova – When a book becomes a message
‘When a book becomes a message’ is the first solo show of Moldavian artist, curator and educator Tatiana Fiodorova in Bucharest, on view through March 11th, 2016 (Czech Centre, 11 Ion Ghica), supported by The Future Museum, and introducing the public to her artist’s books, which are one of her most prevalent means of expression.
Among the exhibited projects, her book ‘Steaua Roșie (Red Star)’ refers to the Soviet Moldavian textile factory with the same name, the flagship of the Moldovan light industry in the Soviet era which closed in 1999 due to major debts, yet this is the place where her mother worked for more than 25 years, and in this project the artist analyses the role of women and labour in the Soviet and post-Soviet context.
‘Steaua Roșie (Red Star)’, 2013–14, 20 x 30 cm, artist’s photo book. Digital prints, printed paper, photo paper. One exemplar, self-published.
Toilet Paper Map
‘Toilet Paper Map Bucharest’ (2016), one of our favorite pieces in the show, is a project made especially for the exhibition, in addition to ‘Toilet Paper Map Prague’ (2012) and ‘Toilet Paper Map Vienna (2015)’. The viewer is faced with an unexpected and ironic collection of toilet paper from various art institutions, galleries, museums and public spaces which indicate the entry costs and customer service, at the same time highlighting the quality of the paper or its absence as a reflection of the institution’s attitude towards its audience.
‘Toilet Paper Map’, 2012-2016, 20 x 30 cm, notebooks, toilet paper. One exemplar, self-published. Text: tranzit.ro Bucharest, free entrance, January 22nd, 2016 / Galeria Posibilă (Possible Gallery), free entrance, Sorry, we’ve run out of toilet paper, January 22nd, 2016.
The photographic book ‘Soviet passport’ (2014) consists in a series of portraits depicting people with their Soviet passports, along with objects, photographs and cherished children’s toys, found in their apartments.
According to Tatiana Fiodorova, “This is the last opportunity to capture the people of the bygone Soviet era, together with the document of a long gone state. The book also includes short but insightful comments of these people about the Soviet era. About the comments, it is quite difficult for these people to part with their Soviet passports, for them, this document is a memory of the past, of a utopian state, where they have spent their youth and lives. Many of them still do not accept the loss of that country and try, with all their might, to hold on to a piece of the Soviet Union. This makes me ask a question, if there are still people holding Soviet passports, then, the country of USSR also still exists, maybe not in reality, but in some people’s mentality.
This project is also somewhat personal. Attached there is a copy of my father’s passport, who has passed away suddenly in 1982, when I was only 6 years old. A lot of time has passed, and this passport was for me a memory about the Soviet times and my father. In 2011, circumstances made me apply for Romanian citizenship, and I had to provide documents proving my father’s death. I had to go through many offices and courts until I was told that he is not listed as dead. I was told that it is easier to get a certificate of birth, rather than death. As absurd as it may seem, on paper it looks like my father is still alive, and the Soviet Union continues to live in these passports and people.”
Until March 2014, there was no law forbidding the use of these documents in the Republic of Moldova. At that time however, the government of Moldova approved a draft law stating that by September 1, 2014, Soviet passports must be exchanged for Moldovan ones. In Transnistria, however, Soviet passports are still valid now. As Transnistria, often called a mafia enclave, is officially unrecognised as an independent state, these people are in fact inhabitants of what is currently a blank space on the map. The fact that they held passports from the time of the Soviet Union shows the paradox of talking about the Soviet Union as if it were the distant past. To an extent, this anomaly began around 1988–1990 with the threat of the annexation of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (MSSR) by Romania. Moldavian was the only official language permitted in this multi-ethnic area. As a response, the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic was established as a Soviet republic of the USSR. Even though Michail Gorbachev had not recognised this new Soviet republic, when the USSR fell apart the Soviet Army (later transformed into the Army of the Russian Federation) supported the status quo in this area. The separatist state was not officially recognised by anyone but it existed for twenty years, backed by international egalitarian Soviet ideology and the new oligarchic elites that emerged in this period. Ordinary people were drawn into the trap, almost like hostages, and at the same time intentionally maintained in an ideological lethargy.
‘Soviet passport’, 2014, 9 x 13cm. 21 photo cards, original Soviet passport, digital prints on photo paper. Edition of 60, self-published.
Bessarabia and Inhabitants
‘Bessarabia and Inhabitants’ is another project made especially for this solo show, in which Tatiana Fiodorova reinterprets the role of the peasants in the Soviet and post-Soviet context through interventions that blur, erase or modify their identity, as the transition to the city has also altered the traditional concept of the peasant. According to the latest report by the Centre for State Information Resources, 50 villages in Moldova have effectively disappeared, left with fewer than 40 inhabitants. Villages in Moldova are dying in this way due to lack of employment and migration to the cities and abroad.
‘Bessarabia and Inhabitants’, 2016, 15 x 20 cm, artist’s book based on photo archive. Photographs by Vasilii Lefter. Digital prints on photo paper, cardboard. One exemplar, self-published.
Currently based in Chișinău, Republic of Moldova. Work includes installation, live performances, public art, video and digital media. The content of her works tends to reflect the contemporary world in response to current issues: social, political and aesthetic. In recent time, her designs are associated with social interaction, aimed at creating spaces of intercultural dialogue.
The Future Museum
A newly established platform based on a system of open call commissions. All artists and curators based in Romania and Moldova are invited to submit project proposals which will be selected by an international board. The ethos of the museum is a belief in unexplored concepts, uncharted intentions, unknown phenomena, undiscovered schemes and unprecedented theories.
Images courtesy of Future Museum. Info also provided by Future Museum.
Find out more on the project’s website.
Event organized by the Czech Centre in Bucharest.
Media partners: Revista Arta & The re:art.
Event supported by Staropramen.