Visual Art on the Outskirts of EuropeDue to my professional activity, I have been travelling a lot to Eastern Europe in the past few years, as a visual artist. I was fascinated, especially with the Balkan states and Romania. This is why I was thrilled when I received the invitation to take part in the KulTour project entitled “Alternative Art Spaces”, in Moldova and Ukraine.
When it comes to travelling to places I’ve never been to before, I try to capture the special feeling of the inquisitive foreigner, of the researcher and to include it in my visual shows. In the four days I spent in Chisinau I strolled around the city every morning with my video camera, to feel “the pulse” of the city. I usually avoid the regular tourist sites and try to find the hidden attractions: forgotten and abandoned places, filled with history, or places being transformed, and places that to me can look subjectively unique. Bearing this in mind, Chsinau was a really captivating and inspiring city.
Here, in post-Soviet Chisinau, it looks like the various ethnic and cultural influences have left a mark on the place more than on many of the other metropolises in the EU states. Despite the linguistic difficulties, I met a lot of friendly people, who helped me during my expedition. Thus, I not only got to see the rooms with rusty tools of an old Soviet printing house, but I could also climb through a derelict temple in an overgrown Jewish cemetery and walk along the rails of old, abandoned factories. I also mingled with angry anti-corruption demonstrators and I got swept towards the government building, surrounded by a huge number of police officers. I’ve got it all on video, all the impressions from these experiences, meetings and events, and I’ve used them for both my visual shows, together with the Berlin DJ and producer Stefan Goldmann, in the alternative art spaces Buncher and Tipografia 5.
I became ill not long before setting off to Ukraine. This is why, unfortunately, I didn’t have the energy to fully discover the town of Kremenciuk. But my stay there was marked by several pleasant meetings. While Chisinau seemed to have the feel of a European capital, Kremenciuc looked more like a grey, Soviet satellite-city. But in a short though intense time, together with a handful of extremely motivated and helpful people, I devised and built an object for a video installation for the recently opened artistic space, Adapter. From the numerous talks I had with the young people of Kremenciuk, I understood that they lacked relevant cultural opportunities in their town and that it was difficult to bring culture to life and experiment with it on the other side of the Ukrainian mainstream. That’s why they were all so happy when Adapter opened. All the stakeholders were extremely motivated by the opportunity to use the space.
I am really grateful to have been able to participate in the project and meet the wonderful people on site.