Ost ['ᴐst], German, noun: East
Algos [álgos], Ancient greek, noun: pain
Ostalgia is a photographic series developed for over 2 years. It was born in the wake of a documentation work for the Museum of Architecture in Vienna. I was a photographer in a research team set up by the Museum whose mission was to locate and study the official Soviet architecture promoted in its 15 satellite republics between 1960 and 1990. The series is a subjective catalogue of monumental buildings that testify to a past of heroic intentions, but which reach the present completely eroded with disappointment. They were icons of success and progress and, therefore, complicit in political propaganda and the dynamics of legitimization of a totalitarian ideology. Houses of Culture of the Trade Unions, Houses of Culture of the Socialist Pioneers, Congress Centers of the Workers, Lenin Palaces, Circuses and Sports Palaces, Museums, Memorials and Mausoleums…
[...] “Nobody could trust anybody,” are the words my father, Teodor Kurz, often uses to describe the atmosphere that permeated day-to-day life in the Socialist Republic of Romania (SRR). Yet his photographs, taken in the Romania of the 1970s and 1980s, transmit something different from mistrust, something that could even be taken for happiness. Warm and colorful, they show people who seem to live a life of welfare. These fragments of life that I have subtracted from my father’s archives (and from my biography), interrupt the monotonous rhythm with which Ostalgia runs. Which of these two rhythms is noise and which is music? Were we really happy, Dad? Or rather, have we all played a massive fiction of welfare? Can you be happy without freedom? Are there fulfilled private lives in the absence of public life? Can a person be happy even if she knows she is surrounded by limits, lies and menaces? What would I have been if the Romanian revolution did not happen and I kept on living in a closed system? Could I be happy then? Do I miss living in the SRR? Do we miss the USSR?
— Simona Rota
Simona Rota (Rumanía, 1979). MA in Political Sciences in Bucharest and Barcelona, she studies Photography in Madrid. During her studied, she collaborates with writings for magazines of political sciences: Studia Politica and Revista de Politica Internacional. After her studies, she moves to Tenerife where, during 5 years, she works as an Office Manager for Fernando Menis’s office of architecture. At the same time, she freelances as a coordinator or assistant for producing cultural events. In 2009, already in Madrid, she starts to work as a Communications consultant for Menis Arquitectos, Miralles+Tagliabue, Office for Strategic Spaces.
Commissioned by the Museum of Architecture from Vienna, Rota achieves a large mission of photographic documentation of the Soviet Modern architecture in the former Soviet republics (2010 -2012). Awarded at the Festival Emergent – Pati de la Llotja (2011), finalist at the Prize Purificación García (2012), shortlisted at PhotoEspaña Descubrimientos (2012), she exhibited, among others, at the Kursala (Spain 2013), at the Sevastopol Museum of Art (Ukraine, 2012), at the StadtMuseum Graz (Austria, 2012), at the Architektur Zentrum Wien (Austria 2009, 2012), at the Medellin Museum of Modern Art (Colombia, 2010), at the CdC (Spain, 2012). Her works have been shown at Art Week Vienna 12, SCAN 12, and Biennial Fotonoviembre 11 etc. She published the photo book “Ostalgia” (Fabulatorio – Kursala, 2013) and the book “Missbehave” (Vibok Works – Book. a, 2013).