Ron Sluik on Thu, 27 Feb 2003 08:46:24 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-ro] This is my House -- the cruel paradise

  I was happy to meet a girl I could expect not to be there (anymore).

Last November, as a Dutch artist living in Moldova, I went for a few
days with my friend Victor Gutu and two other painters to a little
picturesque Moldovan village called Butuceni, about 30 kilometers
north of the capitol Chisinau. They were going to paint in the open
air, an activity I’ve never experienced. I decided to join them, to
have some rest, escape the city, enjoy the last good weather of the
year and maybe to make some photos on the way for the photobook I am
working on entitled “Eto Moi Dom – Jestokii Rai”
or “This is my House – the cruel paradise”.

The village is extremely beautiful, situated on a peninsula at the
bottom of a canyon carved into the earth through a million years by
the river Raut. The local houses are made out of mud and wood,
colourfully painted in bright blue or green with hand carved
decorations of flowers and birds everywhere. You might not believe it
but this place once used to be a centre of the world! The area is an
important archaeological and geological location: nearby you can find
the leftovers of a Mongolian settlement, the ruins of a Turkish
bathhouse, the caves of early Christian monks. There is even a
cave-church still in use and in summertime there are butterflies of
all kinds everywhere.

I’m pretty sure this place, if situated for instance 30 kilometers
north of my former habitat Amsterdam, would be a major tourist
attraction like cheesetown Edam... but it isn’t. It is just another
village of thousands in this young and poor country of the former
Soviet Union. A sandy road goes through it and about every 300 meters
there is a well – no running water in the houses. Mainly elderly
people live in the little farms with a garden in the backyard where
they grow the essential things they need. Some vegetables, corn and
potatoes, a small vineyard, a few chickens around the house...
and there are small children who are looking after the few cows in the
fields or the geese along the riverbanks. In the village there’s a
shop and a bar for sugar, salt, matches and vodka, the things that do
not grow in a garden. On the surface it all looks like a happy and
self-supporting system, an economy without need of money, but somehow
something in these surroundings is missing. Then you realize that you
hardly see any adults between 20 and 50. They are working somewhere
else: some in Chisinau, but most further away as seasonal workers,
cheap or illegal, in Russia or in the west to keep their families
alive in this cruel paradise they were once born.

While the painters put their easel on a romantic spot on the edge of
the village near the ravines and the river I decide to take a walk to
the highest point overlooking the area. The weather is perfect in
early November and the sky is blue. And while I climb, following a
goat’s track and imagining I am all alone on the planet, I find on top
of the hill a girl, holding a pink mobile telephone, calling an
outside world. I am in love with her colors. I ask her: Do not run
away, please stay. She stays, at least for this photo.

                                   Ron Sluik, 22 January 2003 Chisinau.

Big photo –
This text –

Coming up soon:
“This is my House – the cruel paradise” – a new photobook by the Dutch
artist Ron Sluik with afterword by Irina Grabovan. A publication by
AoRTA – Chisinau – rep. Moldova –

11–28 March 2003 – Ron Sluik Photoworks – solo-exhibition CIAC Bucharest. 
14 April – 2 May 2003 – Photoworks – solo and group-exhibition ‘Arti et Amicitiae’

Other artists asked by galeria AoRTa to participate in this presentation are: 
Bertien van Manen, Walter Bartelings, Joost Conijn, Ine Lamers, Arno Nollen,
Joep Neefjes, Rene Duinkerken (NL), Ruben Bellinkx (Belgium),
Walter Bergmoser (Germany), Ivan Faktor (Croatia), Max Bleaulich,
Johannes Steidl, Lucas Horvath (Austria), Dimitri Konradt (Russia),
Sasha Tinei (Moldova/Hungaria), Victor Gutu and Irina Grabovan (Moldova).

Ron Sluik (1961) lives and works as artist and photographer in Chisinau. 
Irina Grabovan (1965) runs Galeria AoRTa, an independant space
for contemporary arts and photography.

For more information please contact –

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