Issue #38, 2011

Chisinau, a City Difficult to Pronounce
Pavel Brăila


Chişinău, a City Difficult to Pronounceis Pavel Brăila’s running project for 2011, of which he is presenting a glimpse in the pages of IDEA arts +society. Inspired by Walter Ruttmann’s 1927 film Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis, Brăila’s project is following the life of the city throughout one year, at the end of which he is editing the footage as one day, no narrative, no commentary, just the documentary material with the real sound. The constantly changing appearance of his city as well as the lack in the national archives of the country of any recorded visual material documenting these changes from the past 20 years determined the artist to embark on this memory project, which is at the same time an urban diary and a historical and anthropological filmic essay. More than the formal cinematic experience created by the different rhythms of the city, and in a multi-perspectival shift offered by the triptych presentation, the project constitutes itself in a document which allows the viewer not only to follow the city’s idiosyncrasies but also to become a witness of its irreversible transformation. Turning spectators into witnesses is a concern shared lately by performative and visual arts, and Pavel Brăila has a longstanding interest for and practice of both of them. His project is thus a chronicle of a present rapidly becoming history, with its public as the only – diffuse – keepers of a memory soon to be erased. (Raluca Voinea)


Pavel Brăila is a visual artist and film-maker based in Chişinău, Moldova. He received international acclaim and recognition with his 2002 film Shoes for Europe, presented at documenta11. Projects he realized since then include AlteArte – a TV program on contemporary art aired on the national channel Moldova1, Barons’ Hill – a six-channel video work (2005) showcasing a new and vainglorious Sinti and Roma architecture currently arising in Moldova, and more recently, Definitively Unfinished (2010), a film awarded at the Oberhausen International Film Festival. Chişinău, a City Difficult to Pronounce is part of Odyssey MD-2010, an ambitious project aiming at documenting a year of life in Moldova.