But then again why should we avoid stereotypes? When people emigrate stereotypes follow them like shadows. Nostalgia for things that are lost also creates stereotypes in the shape of selective memories, a sight that is no longer seen or a taste that is no longer felt (because tomatoes don’t taste the same allover) becomes subjective, idyllic and sometimes sacred . So I decided to address my own selective memories and idealized images through this art installation hoping that it would entice the audience to take a look at their own shadows.
This is the concept:
Boxes are very handy when we move. I didn’t take too many with me when I left Romania for Switzerland. How can you fit a life, a country, a culture in a box? You take the essential, of course, but what becomes essential when you reduce everything to the size of a box?
For me the essence of things lies in the stories they carry, it is stories that make us human. The ability to tell stories, to create objects with meaning, symbols and feelings attached to them is a human power. So, together with my grandmother’s embroideries, my mother’s old recipe notebook, some old family photos, I made room for Panait Istrati’s novels, which I read as a child. At that time I was infatuated with his writing (I still am) because not only did he describe my hometown, places so familiar and dear to me, but it seemed to me that his characters were coming straight out of my family, that he was talking about us.
In my head Musa could have very well been my great great grandfather, a Greek born in Fener, captain of a commercial ship, explorer of the Mediterranean, “vagabond of the world”. Many times I imagined drinking “Şerbet” with him on the narrow streets of Constantinople and telling stories of faraway places. I, myself, wanted to become a vagabond of the world.
Shadows are unique like fingerprints and they are always with us, although we are seldom aware of them. Travelling for extensive period of time or living as an expatriate sometimes makes people homesick, just like sailors spending too much time at sea, but for me this meant the chance to become a “vagabond of the world” while becoming more aware of my Romanian shadows, both good and bad.
My great grandfather (down right) on his steamboat
A stereotypical village against real people
All these objects are handmade, cut in wood, the details are wood-burnt and hand painted. Photos are from my family’s collection.