Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear is a multi-layered and multi-disciplinary story of the relationships between collective and personal memories by looking at the community surrounding a textile mill in Narva, Estonia, now closed, of which Kapajeva’s family was a part. The story of one small community is set in the larger context of post-industrial cities worldwide, as they seek new identities. It depicts a mill filled by powerful rhythms of looms and lively collectives of women workers that, in today’s competitive world seems like a bright and distant dream. Maria has focused on women, with a heightened sensitivity towards social and political matters in post-Soviet culture. http://www.mariakapajeva.com/
Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear by Maria Kapajeva
First limited edition of 600
170 x 240 mm
Silk-screen printed clothbound on a softcover with flaps
Open spine Swiss binding
244 visuals (photographs, cutouts and archival materials)
Published April 2020
As the daughter of a textile designer, she spent her childhood at the mill, drawing fabric patterns and dreaming about the same job her mother had. She tries to interweave her mother’s work, her childhood dreams and their failures with the workers’ collective ones to underline the division between personal and collective memories that together form our historical narratives.
The title Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear is borrowed from the lyrics of March of Enthusiasts, from the Soviet movie The Bright Way (1940), starring Lyubov Orlova in the role of a female weaver, who made her ‘Cinderella’ journey from peasant to Stakhanovite, a heroic worker. This line of the song was later censored because of doubt raised by the word ‘unclear’. The idea of a wonderful dream is intended as a common thread throughout the book but so too is the lack of clarity that characterizes our memories of the past.
The book is in 3 languages – Estonian, Russian and English. It is designed by Jaan Evart (EE/NL), contributed by Liisa Kaljula (EE), Philipp Dorl (UK) and supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, British Council in Estonia, Creative Europe Programme of the European Union A Woman’s Work and Gallery of Photography Ireland.
Gallery of Photography Ireland
The closure of public institutions due to the COVID-19 pandemic means we sadly have had to cancel the launch of Maria Kapajeva’s exhibition Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear, the first solo showing of her work in Ireland. This exhibition was organised as part of A Woman’s Work, a project funded by Creative Europe to examine the nature of women’s labour through photography, and our own Contemporary Women’s Practice season. We will endeavour to make a selection of materials from the exhibition available online.
Using a multidisciplinary approach, including archival elements alongside her own images and installations, this project considers the history of the community surrounding a textile mill in Narva, Estonia, now closed, where members of the artist’s family once worked. Kapajeva spent her childhood at the mill, drawing patterns and dreaming about becoming a fabric designer like her mother. The story of this one small community is further set in the larger context of post-industrial cities worldwide as the loss of their former roles leave them seeking new identities.
The title of the exhibition is borrowed from the lyrics of March of Enthusiasts, from the Soviet movie The Bright Way (1940), about a female weaver making an idealised journey from peasant to heroic worker. This line of the song was later censored because the word ‘unclear’ was seen as raising doubts about the Soviet project. The idea of a wonderful dream is intended as a common thread throughout the exhibition, but so too is the lack of clarity that characterizes our memories of the past.
Drawing on aspects of her mother’s work, her own unrealised childhood dreams and the failed ambition of industrial collectivization, Kapajeva underlines the complex relationship between personal and public memory that together form our historical narratives. By including a range of different voices and approaches, she indicates that these histories can never be straightforward, but are shaped by multiple, often conflicting forces.
Alongside the exhibition, Kapajeva will launch her new artist’s book Dream Is Wonderful, Yet Unclear, which is an extended version of the project. It is being published by Milda Books, Latvia, with the kind support of the Estonian Cultural Endowment, the British Council in Estonia, A Woman’s Work/ Creative Europe, and Gallery of Photography Ireland. As a result of current circumstances this launch will now take place virtually, Thursday May 7th, 2020, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. www.galleryofphotography.ie
Artist’s Bio: Maria Kapajeva is an Estonian artist, who works in London. She received a BA in Photography from The University for the Creative Arts, Farnham and an MA in Photographic Studies from The University of Westminster, London. Her work was internationally exhibited, including most recently: Latvian Museum of Photography (2019), CBS Digital Art Space (Denmark, 2019), RIBOCA Biennial (Latvia, 2018), Kaunas Photography Gallery (Lithuania, 2018), Narva Art Residency (Estonia, 2017), WOAK Gallery (Poland, 2017), Detroit Oloman Gallery (USA, 2017). Her video works have been shown at Luminocity Festival (Canada, 2018), NexT Film Festival (Romania, 2017) and Berlin Feminist Film Week (2016). In 2016 she received a Gasworks & Triangle Network Fellowship to work at Kooshk Residency in Tehran. Kapajeva’s first artist book You can call him another man, published by Kaunas Photography Gallery, was shortlisted for Aperture Photobook Award 2018. For more see: www.mariakapajeva.com