Organized by Jane Farver, the Director of the LVAC, the exhibition premieres Barons’ Hill (2004), a large scale installation which consists of six 11’ x 7’ video projections and a selection of large scale photographs. Also to be presented is Shoes for Europe (2002), a 10’ x 16’ projection of a film accompanied by a short text, originally presented at Documenta XI, in Kassel, Germany, for which he has gained exposure and international acclaim throughout Europe.
Braila was born in Chisinau, Moldova, in 1971, where he still resides. Much of Braila’s work documents contemporary life in the Republic of Moldova, a small country located between Romania and Ukraine, which has a long history of foreign domination. It is the only former Soviet bloc country to democratically re-elect its former communist leader.
For Barons’ Hill, Braila films the “homes” of the leaders of the Roma in the Moldovan city of Soroca. These homes, which began being built at the beginning of the ‘90s, are elaborate architectural fantasies often inspired by a postcard, a reproduction of an old painting, or an image from a film. These extraordinary homes are often without any utilities nor residents and are saved for big parties or special guests. They qualify as must-see sights in a number of tour guides to the region. Braila writes: “[the leaders of the Roma] have created both museums of desire and power, dreams of beauty and freedom, and museums of isolation and poverty.”
Shoes for Europe documents in real-time the painstaking, grinding process of changing the Russian wheel gauges still used on Moldovan trains at the border between Moldova and Romania. It speaks, with an ambient sound track without dialogue, to the differences between Old and New Europe and the consequences of the fall of the Berlin Wall for the new nations that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. Shoes for Europe has a formal, hypnotic beauty that transforms this colossal task — performed on a dark snowy night — into something mythical and heroic .
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with essays by curator Jane Farver and art critic Michael Wilson.