Paul Petro Gallery, Toronto 2008
motherfatherdaughter - a multiple media work 2007/2008
It consists of 4 dvds (60 min - father; 48 min - mother; daughter - 90 min + 45 min ) ; plus 15 photographs 24 x 33 inches (61 x 83 cm)
This work brings together a family that hasn't been a family.
The father was born in a Rumania's hinterland and first survived the traumatic experience of World War Two and its immediate afterward: Six of his evelen siblings died of malnutrition. Leaving home for Bucharest, he stood on his own and became a plumber, working for the city. He participated in a state program that sent Rumanian contract workers abroad: during the communist area he lived and worked in Austria, Czech Republic, Libya and other places. Married in Romania with a family, he left the country for years, something that facilitated a short-lived relationship with a Czech woman who became pregnant. He left and never acknowledged the pregnancy or the child. Letters and court orders weren't responded. What he did (he claims it was unrelated) was to keep moving. He left eventually Romania before the end of the Ceausescu area and escaped with his family via Austria (refugee camp Kreiskirchen) leaving all his relatively privileged communist life behind he enjoyed as a contract worker allowed to leave the country. He was about to be imprisoned for illegally keeping foreign currencies at home and other little offenses against the Soviet style law, all triggered by criticism of some of the work conditions. After some time in Austria and a rejection from Austria (they accused him of being a spy, since he was a Romanian contract worker who was allowed to travel and even to make holliday's during the Ceausescu area) to stay, he was able to immigrate to Canada where he has been living since with his family, a wife and two daughters.
The mother was born into a northern Czech city, Klasterec nad Ohri, dominated by heavy and very polluting industries. Her father survived the German concentration camp Buchenwald. After first joining the communist party, he left the communists not man years later in disappointment over their dealings, leaving people unsympathetic to him. When he suffered a heart attack, communists hindered doctors from coming in time, which cost his life. The mother therefore never was in favor of the communist establishment, something that prevented her from studying and didn't make her life easier. Later in life, the fatheri, who was on a relative short working stay in her town, made her pregnant. He left and most of her letters never were answered. She gave up contacting him. Since that disappointing romance she never had been seriously engaged with a man anymore. She has worked all her live as a factory worker making socks and bottle corks. She has had the life of a single mother with little support under the communist regime and all the limitations that this included. The mother had suffered a series of health problems that almost left her in a wheel chair. Today, she is very interested in natural medicine but suffers from two cancers, most likely due to environmental poisonong. Note that most of the population was given extra money because of heavy pollution, money nicknamed "funeral money" - a sum also dependent on party adherence, hence not for her. Finally, she is accepting chemical therapy. Her daughter a lived with her until the age of 14, when she entered high school. The mother - daughter relationship was not easy since the mother had to work late hours, often not returning before 11 pm.
The daughter was traumatized by her mother's up-bringing which often crossed lines. Not having had a man, her mother put emotional and psychological stress on her. In the first 5 years of her live, there was also a sick grand mother in the house dying of cancer. Puberty was painfully lived by her, since it provoked wrong reactions in her mother. As soon as she could leave, at the young age of 14, she left for a boarding schoo in another city. At age 16 she lived on her own. She has had an adventurous live surrounded with adventurous and sometimes bad people. One of her employer in a bar was convicted of murder. He shot a client about a money dispute. The victim was a hit man, a loan shark, and previously had drugged her, taking her away and spreading false rumors that he had sex with her. Numerous other stories followed in the daughter's live as a young woman including other assaults on her live. The daughter's story is remarkable in as far as she has managed to escape most of it including several attemps of rape. Eventually, at age 22 she emigrated on her own to New York City where she has been living since. Her US residence was first legal, turned later illegal, and has been now switched to egality again. Today, at age 27, she is a student of international criminal justice. For many years, the daughter tried to find her father without success. From the USA, a couple of years ago, she was able to locate her father in Canada.So far, they have met 3 times, of which one meeting was arranged for this project in November 2007. The meeting, interviewing and filming with the mother happened in the Czech Republic over the years end 2007/08. The interview with the daughter was carried out in January 2008 in NYC.
Naples, Florida, USA, November 2007
Klasterec nad Ohri, Czech Republic, 2007/08
New York, 2007/08