Wednesday, December 21, 2011


(versión en español después de las imágenes)


Pain of East - if we insist on making a literal translation of the word and concept Ostalgia - was born in 1989, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. If there before, we did not appoint it until the former East Germany, faced with rapid changes necessary for integration with its western half, felt homesick for its old identity in the process of dissolution. This yearning along with a certain sentimentality of the West to the just rediscovered East created a new mythology about the former East Germany and by extension, about East, of the former Soviet bloc. In German, Ost means East. In Greek algos means pain. Ostalgia is a linguistic alloy as impossible as the same desire to reconstruct something that might not have ever been there. 
Ostalgia is a photographic series scheduled in two stages Ostalgia 1 (Winter 2010-2011) and Ostalgia 2 (Winter 2011-2012) and that was born in the aftermath of a work of documentation. The pretext and initial starting point was a cataloging through the camera of Soviet modern architectural remains from the `60 -` 80, in the former Soviet republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine etc As a photographer, I am part of a multidisciplinary research group coordinated by the Vienna Center of Architecture and its mission - under the name "Soviet Modern" - is to locate, rescue and study the Soviet archives related to the architecture that was promoted by the former USSR in its 15 republics.
The buildings documented in my travels for the purpose of this research group, are, most often large structures of heroic air. They were designed and built as an expression of triumph, pride and affirmation of national identity as an opponent to the central power in Moscow. Their bold designs, sometimes experimental were favored by the search for a national image, prestige as well as a strong belief in economic progress. Big buildings that now may stand alike ridiculous giants, big dreams invalidated by history, the decadent atmosphere that reigns today in the former Soviet republics create a physical and virtual space on which it is easy to project anxiety, myths and nostalgia.

El dolor de Este - si nos empeñamos en hacer una traducción literal de la palabra y del concepto “ostalgia” - nació en 1989, tras la caída  del Muro de Berlín. De existir antes, no llegamos a nombrarlo hasta que Alemania del Este, confrontada con los cambios rápidos necesarios para su integración con su mitad occidental, sintió añoranza por su identidad pasada, en proceso de disolución. Esta añoranza, junto a un cierto sentimentalismo de Occidente hacia el apenas redescubierto Este, generó una nueva mitología sobre la antigua Alemania Oriental y por extensión hacia el antiguo bloque soviético. En alemán, “Ost” significa “Este”. En griego, “algos” significa dolor. Ostalgia es una aleación lingüística tan imposible como el mismo deseo de reconstruir algo que posiblemente no haya existido nunca.
Ostalgia es una serie fotográfica cuya realización está prevista en dos fases Ostalgia 1 (invierno 2010-2011), ya realizada y Ostalgia 2 (invierno 2011-2012) y que nace como secuela de un trabajo de documentación para el Centro de Arquitectura de Viena, dentro de una misión de catalogación de la arquitectura soviética de los años 60-80. Los edificios documentados en mis viajes son a menudo grandes estructuras de aires heroicos. En su época fueron diseñados y construidos como expresión del triunfo, del orgullo y de la afirmación de la identidad nacional en relativa oposición al poder central de Moscú. Sus diseños atrevidos, a veces experimentales, fueron favorecidos por la búsqueda de una imagen nacional, de prestigio, así como por una decidida creencia en el progreso económico. Hoy se alzan como gigantes absurdos, grandes sueños invalidados por la historia, en la atmósfera decadente que respira la realidad de las repúblicas exsoviéticas y que genera un espacio físico y virtual sobre el que es fácil proyectar ansiedades, mitos y nostalgias.

Till now I' ve never shown the entire series "Ostalgia", except for the Festival El Pati de la Llotja. It's a rather wide series thought for a book. It is also an undergoing series. I will eventually launch it in my website. Meanwhile this blog is suitable enough for showing fragments of it by means of several posts.

Hasta ahora no he enseñado la serie "Ostalgia" entera excepto en el Festival el Pati de la Llotja. Es una serie amplia pensada para un libro. Es además una serie que está todavía en desarrollo. Finalmente la enseñaré entera en mi pagina web pero hasta entonces aquí subiré fragmentos en varias entregas.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Tulcea Romania 1986 / 2011 Ukraine Slavutich

photography: Simona Rota

The left image is a crop from an old black and white photograph from 1896 where I am in front of a monument in Tulcea, a town in south-east Romania. I was a kid, a school girl and I was there in order to become a "pioneer" of the Communist Party, to receive the red scarf (as every school kid from Romania at that time). The monument was the place where to be photographed wearing the newly acquired red scarf.

The right image is a still from a video I have took while I was going by car to Slavutich, in Ukraine. Slavutich is in a way the last ideal soviet town; it had to be planned in order to receive and give a home to the people that had to leave Tchernobyl after the explosion. It was finished in 1989, the same year when the Soviet Union got dismantled. The story of the town in itself and its circumstances is a metaphor for the Soviet Union's system. 

When in 1986, somewhere quite near to my town, the system revealed how wrong it was, I was just entering into it. By going to Slavutich, in 2011, in a cold morning, black and white landscape all around, I felt that one circle, one of the many in which I, anyone lives, closed perfectly. Leaving me outside.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


The book MENIS, edited and published in 2011, by Archilife Publishers, Korea, uses my photos in 3 of the projects of the architect: Church in La Laguna, Magma Arte&Congresos, Sacred Museum and Plaza in Adeje.

The main photo contributors were: Kim Yong-kwan (Korea); Hisao Suzuki (Spain); Roland Halbe (Germany); Jordi Bernadó (Spain); Uwe Walter (Germany); Torben Eskerod (Denmark); Miguel de Guzmán (Spain); Florian Bolk (Germany); Torsten Seidel (Germany); José Oller (Spain).

I was also in charge of supervising the production of the book in collaboration with Archilife and menis arquitectos.

Here some snapshots of the pages where my photos appear:

photos: Simona Rota