On one of the last winter evenings inside the “Inturist” hotel, built in 1979, its visitors were descending the stairs down to the basement, where the performance “double bubble” took place. In comparison to other Soviet “Inturist” hotels, which were part of official state travel agency, founded in 1929 by Stalin and were staffed by NKVD and later KGB officials, the hotel in Uzhgorod, Ukraine has a special room called “red bar”. If one could observe the political situation of the country, tracing what is being preserved in its memory, watching its changing subcultures through the prism of life of just one particular bar , then the “red bar” would be its paradigm. Therefore became this place a platform for my exhibition “trust me your import”.
The performance “double bubble” examined import and export through the biographical prism in establishment of self-identification, the situation of being grown up at the periphery or on borders and always questioning it eligibility. At the same time it revises this phenomenon in a broader sense. The reference to the movie “Import Export” by Ulrich Seidl, done with the author’s consent, became a reunification point between two destinations: Austria as a representative of “the West” and Ukraine standing for “the East”, both in a movie of Seidl, as well as in my own migration experience. Part of the movie was filmed in hotel directly in the “red bar”, where I was performing . It presents two storylines of a single mother Ukrainian nurse and two Austrian men as embodiment of male foolishness which were kicked out by international flow of capitalism to find their way outside their home-country. A story follows two precariously employed Austrians, which arrived to Ukraine in order to install in “the West” already useless and forgotten bubble gum dispensers and experience all the cheap pleasures.
The performance went as follows: I slowly opened one of the bubble gum automat and placed the first gum into my mouth. Altogether there are 6 bubble gum machines – 3 of them were imported, the other 3 were made in Ukraine. I was gradually accelerating the speed of consuming the chewing gums, trying to chew as much of them as possible. During this repetitive act I was at the same time molding a shapeless mass out of the chewed gums. After I almost emptied the content of automats, I poured the rest of gums all over the space, so that audience could taste the gums from the table and consequently expand my “statue”.
Using the gum as a metaphor of elasticity of borders, comments on the apparent profundity between import and export, between the gap, being glued and fixed with the gum.
Curator of the exhibition “Trust me your import”Petro Ryaska
Photo credit Robert Dovganych