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Johannesburg Kisheniev project 1999

At the end of 1998, South Africa based (and Johannesburg born) painter Luan Nel and I discussed the possibility of collaborating on a project. The idea came about after a series of informal conversations we had about our places of origin (conversations that are inherent to the process of breaking barriers between strangers in a foreign environment). Although we came from vastly different backgrounds, we were struck by the discovery that a sense of exclusion marks both our childhood memories.

To investigate ideas of memory, particularly memory’s inability to present an actual, accurate truth, we traveled together in 1999 to the places of our earliest memories: Johannesburg, South Africa and Kishinev, Moldova. In two separate bodies of work (I photographed and Nel painted in oil on canvas), we also investigated the possibility of sharing childhood experiences, or rather things seared into our memory, with somebody from a different culture. While each of us looked for his formed memories within the context of his birthplace, we also had the experience of seeing an unknown place through the prism of the other’s memories.

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