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Ilya Rabinovich--------Luan Nel
Johannesburg------------Kisheniev
A proposal for a collaborative project 1999
At the end of 1998 we (Rabinovich and Nel) started discussing the possibilities of working together on a joint project. What initiated this was a series of conversations about our respective places of origin. This was rather informal and part of the process of breaking barriers between strangers in a foreign environment.
We found that although we come from two very removed countries, certain things overlapped and mirrored each other. Our places of origin or earliest memory seem to hold certain similarities. Both Kisheniev and Johannesburg has in a sense 'changed hands'. Kisheniev was first part of Romania then the Soviet Union and is now the capital of Moldova. It changed from a communist state to what is considered a democracy. Johannesburg has/is changing from an apartheid city to a cosmopolitan metropolis. Certain visible changes are clear i.e. housing and the integration of areas and communities. This takes time but there are visible signs of change. Socially there are enormous growing pains for example the rise in crime. All of these factors with regards to both sites will inevitably play a role in a project that deals in some way with urban landscape. It is however not the impetus for the project as a whole. We are interested to see whether certain barriers like culture and language can be broken or overcome when exchanging that which, to a large extent, is private. Our project deals with time and place and we are aware of the fact that we 'speak' from the view point of 1999. We are aware that it is virtually impossible to fully reconstruct the past in search of Innocence' but what might be found within such a search could be interesting. Another extremely important question is how memory gets earmarked. We suspect that to a large extent it happens through emotions i.e. fear joy, longing etc. These are often connected to specific sites.
The main emphasis is on dealing with the spaces of our past, spaces of memory. We want to investigate whether it is possible to share experiences from childhood with somebody from another culture, in a sense sharing things that we can not erase from our memory. This 'information' also becomes 'material' that the other artist can use in a sense seeing through someone else's eyes. We therefore need to surface these things by consciously being together within spaces that evoke and carry memory and meaning, it is almost an investigation into what formed and informed us .It should be emphasized that this process of sharing and exchange is not only the basic mechanics of the project but the prime aim of our collaboration . An artist often deals with his or her memories and past. What we aim to do is to share and exchange this information - in a sense handing it over to the other artist and allowing him to digest it and then to create something new.
Our two attitudes towards working also differ and this will hopefully play an interesting part when applied to these varying sites. Rabinovich's work makes use or the relatively 'objective' process of photography in order to find the Subjective within reality. Nel tries to locate what is subjective (from within) and apply it to a reality. We are also interested to see whether certain barriers like culture and language can be broken or overcome when exchanging that which is to a large extent private.
Our project will consist of three parts , firstly we are in the process of making a documentary film in which we investigate ways of communication and exchanges of memories and ideas, this film begins in Amsterdam .where we met and continues to Kisheniev and Johannesburg. Alongside this film .which shows the process of our exchange, we intend to do two bodies of work. Rabinovich will make two series of photographs of Kisheniev and Johannesburg respectively. He will photograph not only places like the home environment but varying places that carry meaning for example parks, streets etc. Nel intends to do a series of paintings concentrating on Johannesburg and Kisheniev. These works will deal with the idea of memory and the sometimes illusive character of it. The painting will be subjected to a process of 'washing1 whereby the paint will be cleaned from the canvas. This process will be recorded and eventually form a type of film-to projected onto the blank canvases.
Ilya Rabinovich and Luan Nel.