To Prague With Love

by: Ira Eduardovna

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2014, single-channel video (HD), 12’52’’, color, sound, 16:9 | In Russian and English with English subtitles | Courtesy: the artist

Like many other works by Ira Eduardovna, To Prague with Love is an attempt to place the memories of her family into a wider sociopolitical and historical context. At the same time, she raises the question of the fragility of memory – how and what do we remember? And how much of what we think is our past is in fact imagined memory? Following a common Soviet tradition that was often compulsory for school students for ideological reasons, Ira’s sister Victoria, who grew up Tashkent in the late 1980s, had a pen pal from Czechoslovakia. Spurred on by fear and the habit of double-think (and encouraged by the educational system and the all-encompassing propaganda), in her letters Viktoria describes her life much more positively than in reality, not mentioning the real state of things to her Czech correspondent. Almost 25 years later, Ira Eduardovna has tried to find her sister’s pen pal and reconstruct their memories.

Starting as a documentary where the two sisters revisit their past, the work turns into a reality show, where the audience decides which of the memories about this pen pal friendship are true and which are false. A subtle combination of facts and fiction, the video highlights a thin line between myth and reality, manifest not only in our memories but also largely abused by mass media today. The work is especially relevant due to current manipulative strategies in the state-run Russian media that tend to suppress negativity and promote the image of a strong, economically stable, and happy country as a unified nation.

Ira Eduardovna was born and raised in Uzbekistan and currently lives and works in New York. Her work reconstructs narratives of autobiographical nature and examines issues of migration and identity in flux through non-linear storytelling. Eduardovna’s video installations examine the border of video and architecture and the influence of architecture on the experience of time and memory. Her solo shows have been exhibited at the Israel Museum (Jerusalem), Cuchifritos Gallery NYC, Momenta Art (Brooklyn), Braverman Gallery (Tel Aviv), Center for Contemporary Art FUTURA / Karlin Studios (Prague), Vox Populi Gallery (Philadelphia, PA), Baruch College New Media Art Department Gallery (NYC), Rosenberg Gallery, Hofstra University Art Gallery (Hempstead NY), 1708 Gallery (Richmond, VA). She has also participated in numerous group shows across Europe, in the USA, Israel, and Brazil.